Thursday 29 November 2012

Tembe and Turtle Nesting at Bhanga Nek

The Bhejane Nature Training students have had the opportunity this week to go and watch the Turtle nesting at Bhanga Nek and while in the area a drive through Tembe Elephant Park during the day.

Tembe elephant park delivered once again with some great elephant sightings. The Tembe bush is green and dense with all the rain we have had the past month and this makes game spotting slightly more challenging. It was nice to see all the young, new born animals that are around, from the youngest Impala ive seen to date, which was probably just approaching the end of its laying out period, to some really small warthogs we found hiding behind a dead branch next to the road. 

The students stayed over at the Rocktail Bay beach lodge, in the beautiful sand forest lying right next to the beautiful protected beaches of the area. From Rocktail we drove to Bhanga Nek beach along the challenging coastal sand roads to meet the guide to take us on our Turtle tour.  We walked 12km in total, but every step of the way was worth the final result we got.

At the 6km mark we found one loggerhead turtle making her way out of the ocean and up onto the beach. We sat for about 40minutes waiting for her to find the right spot where she will then start digging to lay her eggs. This particular turtle couldn’t find soft, suitable sand for her nest and then she turned around and headed back to the ocean. The nesting area must be selected cautiously because it affects characteristics such as fitness, emergence ration and vulnerability to predators for the hatchlings and if the female cant find a suitable area, she will return to the ocean and try again at a different spot along the beach.

About 100m from our tours starting point we found another Loggerhead moving up the beach and sat down once again to wait and see if she will find a suitable spot and start nesting. After about 30minutes she started digging and the guide took us in to watch the process. It was amazing to see how she can use her back fins for digging and how effective she is at using them as she digs down into the soft sand. After about 15 minutes of digging the egg laying process started. The turtles’ eyes are very sensitive to light and we used one red light to see what was happening, avoiding the head region. The last thing we wanted to do is to disturb the turtle and cause her to go back into the ocean without laying her eggs.

Loggerhead turtles nest in intervals of 2 to 4 years and will lay 3 to 6 nests per season, at approximate intervals of 12–17 days during the nesting season, on or near the beach where they hatched. They will lay an average of between 100 to 126 eggs in each nest, which will then incubate for about 60 days.  After the eggs have been laid the female will cover the egg chamber and body pit with sand and return to the sea. The whole process can take up to 2 hours!

This was truly an amazing experience to have been part of and 60 days from now there will be small Loggerhead turtles emerging from that exact spot!
The level 1 Marine and terrestrial groups will be going on turtle tours tonight and we look forward to hearing about their experiences when they return!

The video underneath is a short edit on the Experiences the Impi's had on the trip! 

For more information on Bhejane Nature Training and Available 2013 Course, email us on today!

Rocktail Bay under the Night Sky

Creating Awareness Through Wilderness....

Friday 23 November 2012

Hop On Assessment

This is a great opportunity for people that have completed the FGASA Level 1 theory at home and want to do the practical assessment. Join Bhejane Nature Training students on their assessment week, and hop on a assessment drive. Learn new guiding skills from experienced working guides doing their level 2 assessments and from the feedback after assessments. We will be using open game drive Landy’s and this will enhance your game viewing experience and enable you to guide more naturally than from a closed vehicle. Our venue Mkuze Game Reserve is a place of great beauty and diverse habitats , that provide for a wide variety of plant and animal species. It is a mecca for birds and over 400 species have been recorded. Early summer rains have brought Mkuze alive with smaller things like butterfly’s ,caterpillars and lots of other insects.
Please feel free to contact me (number provided on the add) Make sure that you have your I.D or FGASA number, for confirmation for assessment.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Advanced Nature Guiding and Wildlife Conservation Course

Nature Guiding as a professional career, has evolved steadily over the last two decades, and today is a much sought after career.

The national qualifications that are available for nature guiding are set at relatively low levels when compared to Conservation or Tourism programs, in order to be accessible to more potential students. The working environment, in which these skills are delivered however, is one that requires guides to be confidant, knowledgeable, responsible and well-educated leaders. A guide working at a prestigious 5 star Game Lodge has got an enormous amount of responsibility and very high expectations from both his or her employer and paying guests.

The guides that are currently being produced through shorter training programs, fall short of this requirement and are not viewed as employable by many employers. It is for this reason that many prestigious lodges and reserves put their guides through considerable further internal training programs to ensure that the right skills and values are transferred before allowing them to start working. There is a clear gap between the requirements of the industry and the ability of current programs to produce suitably qualified, mature and responsible nature guides and it is this gap that we hope to bridge with this new industry orientated program.

The Bhejane Nature Training Advanced Nature Guiding and Wildlife Conservation program is a unique and comprehensive 3 year program that is the first of a new generation of industry orientated learning programs. This program combines the intimately related fields of Professional Nature Guiding, Conservation/Wildlife Management, Monitoring and Research, and Tourism and Hospitality. This enables the student to get a quality academic qualification whilst at the same time living and training in the bush as opposed to attending a short informal bush course with little value, or a lengthy academic program that still leaves them unemployable.

Many Nature Conservation graduates are aware of the difficulty in finding employment without also having FGASA guiding qualifications, and this often leads to further time and expense on getting all the necessary qualifications to become employable. Bhejane is in the unique position of being able to offer a 3 year program that will ensure that the student can now do all of this in one place, gain valuable practical experience and qualify for an industry placement at the same time.

In addition to the benefits stated above, this is the only program of its kind that prepares the student to work in both terrestrial and marine protected areas.

The college base camp is situated in Northern Zululand and borders the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park. Widely recognized as an area of unrivalled biodiversity, this offers the opportunity to live, study and work in one of the most diverse natural environments in Southern Africa.

The program is suitable for anyone that is interested in working in Wildlife Tourism and Conservation, either as a Professional Nature Guide, Wildlife Monitor, Research Assistant, Conservation Volunteer Coordinator, Wildlife Manager, or Marine Guide, will benefit from this course. The course caters specifically for students that want more than just an entry-level guiding qualification, and is looking for a more practical training approach than what is available through traditional academic qualifications.

Bhejane Nature Training is a fully endorsed FGASA Training Provider. (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa)

Join us today, to become a part of the Zululand Conservation Legacy . . .

For more information contact Bhejane Nature Training at or go to our website,

Creating Awareness Through Wilderness.....

Monday 19 November 2012

KZN North TopShot Competition

On Saturday the 25th August 2012 the first KZN North TopShot event was held in Hluhluwe.  At the last KZN North FGASA meeting the TopShot event was born with the idea to encourage some healthy competition between people in this industry and to give guys and opportunity to get, or renew their advanced rifle handling qualifications at a low rate of the entrance fee for the day.  The ARH qualification is set in place to fully prepare potential trails guides with the right rifle handling skills to safely walk their guests in dangerous game areas, and if a situation was to arise, he or she, would be comfortable with a heavy caliber rifle and able to handle the situation appropriately.

The event kicked off at 7am on Saturday morning as about 10 participants from the area gathered on the Hluhluwe shooting range. Each contestant ran through the first three drills consecutively, which was the exercises as set out for the FGASA ARH assessment. Two attempts were given and if not passed, the contestant was unable to successfully complete the ARH assessment but could still part take in the competition on a point base. Of the 10 starting competitors 4 went through the first round to shoot in the shot placement and simulated lion charge. The simulated lion charge proved to be the greatest challenge of the day. Many of the contestants have not practiced this drill prior to the competition and this proved to be their down fall. To enable you to pass the FGASA ARH drills, practice and building of muscle memory is vital to have smooth, flawless runs.

The event was a first of its kind and we hope it would eventually grow to become a national competition between guides and people in the guiding industry. The first event was a great success and we would like to thank everyone who came down to support the event and to Magnum Shooting Academy for sponsoring the prizes for the day.

Final results for the day were as follows: Fourth and third place went to Gareth Richards and Ronnie Brink respectively. Second place went to Hanroe Taljaard and Jonathan Webster walked away with the Top Shot title of the day. After the ARH drills and points have been counted contestants had a chance to compete in two extra drills which consisted of a simulated lion charge where the contestant has to land two shots on the lion, on target, before it reaches you and the ‘Halies Hop,’ where the contestant runs up a bank in full trails kit and when he returns from his run, goes through the shot placement procedure. These exercises where just set in place to create a greater challenge for the competition and could possibly be counted for bonus points in the next event.

We hope to have another KZN North TopShot event early in 2013 and we invite you to come join and support the event. We encourage other FGASA districts to also find their TopShot, where we can eventually compete regions against each other.

Keep an eye on the Bhejane facebook page and website for details or alternatively you can email us on info@

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Public Bhejane Photo Competition

Through popular demand, we have decided to have one more competition for you our loyal followers!

As you've seen the Bhejane photo competition is well on its way with entries coming in very quickly now. We invite you to enter your photos today!

Competition Details

  • An album will be created on the Bhejane page named, 'Public Competition,' where your photo's will be uploaded.
  • Email your photo entries to
  • In the email write a description for your photo with your name and surname, camera used to take the picture and if shot with DSLR, give us the settings and lenses you may have used. 
  • You can also tell us where you took this picture and when!
  • Winners will be decided by the amount of 'likes' they get on Facebook, so share your pictures that are posted and tell friends and family to go view and 'like' your picture. 
  • As well as  the amount of 'likes' you will also be judged on overall photo composition and equipment used will also be taken into account!
  • Prizes will be announced soon!!
  • Send your pictures in and stipulate under which category you are entering. Your category's are as follows:
  1. Wildlife
  2. Birds
  3. Landscapes
  4. Marine
  5. People and Nature
  6. The smaller things
We look forward to seeing your pictures!!! Good luck!
'Spitzkoppe' in Namibia

Bhejane Competitions

As we draw closer to the end of the year, we've decided to have a Bhejane Photographic competition. Students are exposed daily to some amazing scenes and wildlife interactions and able of getting some very nice shots!

There are different categories under two main headings. Students can submit maximum of 5 photos per category. The headings  and categories are as follows:

·      DSLR Cameras
1.    Birds
2.    Wildlife
3.    Landscapes
4.    Marine
5.    Bhejane Life
6.    The smaller things (Insects, Frogs, ect.)

·      Mik en Drik’ (for non- DSLR Cameras)
1.   Birds
2.   Wildlife
3.   Landscapes
4.   Marine
5.   Bhejane Life
6.   The smaller things (Insects, Frogs, ect.)

Photos will be uploaded to Facebook and winners will be decided by the amount of 'likes' the pictures then receive. The top voted pictures will then be processed and winners for each category will be announced. Out of the category winners, one over- all winner will then be decided. So its up to you to make sure the best pictures get voted through!! Tell friends and family to go on facebook and like the pictures in the different album category's.

Writing Competition 
 Along with the photographic competition we have decided to invite students to submit some stories for experiences in the field as well. Stories will be placed on our blog and shared on Facebook, and will be judged by the amount of likes they receive on these social networks! Where they are able, pictures and videos will be added. 

Prizes for winners will be announced soon! So go ahead and place your votes today!!!


Follow our Facebook page for more infield updates and pictures! The competition entries will be on facebook for you to browse and vote!

Thursday 1 November 2012

Rocktail Bay Snorkeling Practical

As part of the FGASA Level 1 Marine guiding qualification, students start off with a snorkeling practical. This introduces them to the species one would find along our shores and prepares them to be able to provide guests with a guided snorkeling safari.  
The aim of this first practical is to get students comfortable in the sea and to teach them snorkeling procedures that would be applied to a guided experience with guests.

On Tuesday the 23rd of October the new Level 1 Marine group, the ‘Umkhomo’ group, went to Rocktail Bay for their first practical with Bhejane Nature Training. The coastal drive to Rocktail Bay offers some awesome landscapes and scenic views of coastal forests and lakes.

We stopped off at lake Sibaya, South Africa’s largest fresh water lake. It is separated from the sea by coastal dunes only 2 km in width, and presumably originated from an old lagoon, which later became isolated by sand deposition. The water level is now 23 m above sea level and fluctuates widely depending on rainfall and evaporation, because of the lack of outflowing rivers. Lake Sibaya and its surrounding area is known for the wealth of fauna containing a few rare species and more than 200 species of birds and a large number of hippopotamus and crocodiles. Some 1,500 inhabitants on the lake coast live on agriculture and fishery, keeping traditional ways of fishing. When the lagoon got separated from the sea it slowly became a fresh water lake. Because this process was quite slow, some species managed to adapt to the change in salinity and from being a marine species now transformed to be a freshwater species. One example is the endemic freshwater goby, Silhouettea sibayi

From there we set off to Rocktail Bay Lodge, a beautiful, tranquil setting to spend the next 4 days. The lodge was abandoned a few years ago and is now run by the community, situated in a lovely thick coastal forest where I could enjoy a hot outdoor shower with a Livingstone’s Turaco perched in the tree in front me! 

Unfortunately weather conditions weren’t all that great and the sea conditions was nothing like it could be in the area, but we still went out and managed to learn a lot. On days where weather and rain prevented the group from going snorkeling, time was spent doing coastal tree and plant identification around the camp. Shells picked up from the beach were brought back to be identified and time was spent going through the list of fish seen during the days snorkel.

Birding in these coastal forest proves to be challenging, especially for your beginner birders. The morning chorus of bird calls erupts from dawn but trying to spot the Aves in their coastal habitat is another story. (Everyone sharpened up on their bird calls though!)

We managed to work 3 snorkeling sessions in between the rain and bad ocean conditions, the last two being the most successful! The shallow waters of Lala Neck and Rocktail beach gave the students that are not that comfortable yet in the ocean to adjust and get a feel for the aquatic environment. Everyone managed very well, in what was not ideal conditions, and managed to add quite a few species to their species list. Amongst the species seen was, a blue spotted ribbon tail ray; six stripe soap fish; rectangular trigger fish; floral moray eel; white spotted puffer; two stripe blenny and many more.

Being able to offer guest a guided snorkeling safari is definitely a huge attraction along the pristine beaches on the South African Coast, and would appeal to people of any age! More snorkeling will be done with the group in Cape Vidal and the Kosi Bay mouth, where they will hopefully experience better ocean conditions and see even more.  They will be going to Mission Rocks next week for some more rocky shore practicals and snorkeling.

Below is short video of the weeks snorkeling experiences. As you'll see, conditions weren't ideal and visibility was not that great, but was still greatly enjoyed by all parties and had some very memorable moments.

Lake Sibaya
Students Doing Some Fish ID
Flower from the Cross Berry Raisin Tree

For more information on the Bhejane Marine Level 1 course email us today!
Keep an eye on our facebook and blog pages for more pictures and in field updates.

Creating Awareness Through Wilderness.....