So, there seems to be a few general misconceptions surrounding the guiding industry, especially after a number of changes within strategic bodies over the past few years… What do you need, who do you contact and where does it all fit into the greater scheme of things?
In terms of being a legal guide (not game ranger), all you need is three things:
- A valid first aid certificate, which is endorsed by the department of labour. (Generally needs to be re-acquired every 2 to 3 years, dependant on the provider & level).
- A certificate in guiding from CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority). These are usually issued in Nature Site Guiding, and is recognised by the NQF (National Qualifications Framework), hence why your level will state NQF 2 or 4.
- Once you have obtained your Certificate from Cathsseta, you then need to register yourself as a nature guide with the National Department of Tourism (NDT). They were previously known as DEAT (Department of Environmental affairs and Tourism). These registrations are done per province, the one in which you work, and each province has their own acronym. (For example, the Limpopo division is known as “LEDET”). This will need to be renewed every two years.
Where do all your other guiding related qualifications fit in?
Firstly, let’s start with FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa). FGASA qualifications are not legally required in order to guide, however, as FGASA qualifications are generally set at a higher theoretical and practical level of difficulty, FGASA has become the preferred qualification by employers within the guiding industry in Southern Africa and is quickly gaining popularity in the rest of Africa. Simply put, the logical conclusion from this is that having a FGASA qualification makes you far more employable.
FGASA requires their members to register before being able to continue on with the various levels of qualifications (the most basic being Local Guide & Level 1). Generally, each level requires a theoretical exam to be written, and a practical assessment to be completed. Higher levels may require additional experience, written tasks and more practical assessments – so it is best to check on these details with your chosen FGASA assessor or FGASA themselves (www.fgasa.co.za).
Once you have completed your qualification through FGASA, they will register you on the CATHSSETA database on your behalf and you can go ahead and register with the NDT of your province of work.
FGASA offers a variety of qualifications, such as Nature guiding, Marine guiding and also Trails guiding. FGASA also offers qualifications such as ARH (advanced rifle handling), which again, is not a legal requirement to handle a rifle, it does however, offer an extra level of support from FGASA and for the Lodge, should things go pear shaped on a walk.
What you do need in order to handle any company firearm, is the relevant PFTC (Professional Firearms Training Centre), previously known as SASSETA, certificate to use a firearm for business purposes.
So in short, it is important to ensure that you are legally allowed to guide and that all your relevant qualifications and memberships remain valid. There have been a number of requirement changes over the past few years, and I am sure there will be more to come as the guiding industry grows in size. Keep an eye on our page and blog, and we will ensure you are up to date with the latest developments!
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our clients, family and friends a happy New Year. May 2016 be the best one yet!
Until next time,
Charles and The Nightjar Team