Your Guide

Mark Jones

I have been involved with wildlife and conservation since 1998 and have been privileged to work at some incredible places, gaining experience in all aspects of conservation and tourism; both in the wild and in a captive environment. I am a Level 3 F.G.A.S.A. guide (instructor level). Unlike today, I did not do various courses to get through my levels, but rather self studied, learning as I worked in the field; a time before all of the organisations that govern the guiding industry today.

As a result of being self trained I never really saw examples of how to be a guide, but rather just did what I did on the rehabilitation centre tours (see next paragraph); just gave as much information as possible, always talking, always looking, always interactive. The rehabilitation centre showed me the power that animals have as a teaching tool and how we can use them to teach the public, without entertainment or money being involved. I have worked closely with animals and the public for so many years and have seen nothing but a positive aspect to it. Yes there are facilities in the world today that will happily take your misguided cash for a photo opportunity with a lion or tiger but that is very different to actually teaching with animals.

I started my career at a large and very busy wildlife rehabilitation centre in the Limpopo Province. The focus was mostly large mammals and birds; such as eagles, vultures, antelopes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas…well, the list could go on for a while! One of my absolute highlights at the centre and indeed, in my life, was rearing a hippo after she came in as a newly born baby. I raised her for two years and successfully released her onto a nearby dam, introducing her to a male at the same time where she went on to make a family of her own. It was very much a hands-on facility and from beginning to end I was heavily involved with farm management, lodge management, guiding, teaching ranger courses, poison investigation cases, game capture and release, problem animal control and much more. A place that I will never forget.

I guided for many years in and around the Kruger National Park, both in driving and walking safaris, working for a few lodges as well as freelancing. I have worked with people from just about every country in the world; days filled with excitement and adventure.

I worked at a bird park running a free-flighted educational bird show. I was involved with the rearing, training, and flying of these birds as it is important that you bond very well with them from the beginning. They fly free in an open stadium and won’t come back to you unless they want to! Highlights here was working with Ground Hornbills and Wattled Cranes (a critically endangered species), as well as being part of a team of specialists that established the Southern Ground Hornbill Working Group.

I lived in the UK for nearly four years working as a zookeeper and an education officer. I spent a year at a small zoo near Cambridge and then worked for a world famous park in Kent. I had a fabulous time here working at Europe’s first overnight safari lodge as a bona fide ‘ranger from Africa’, and later on as a zookeeper on the large carnivore section, spending time on the education department during the major holidays. My highlights here were working very closely with Amur tigers (the largest cat in the world), Painted Wolves, and the amazing keepers that made up the carnivore section.

I find myself now, in the famous Garden Route of the Western Cape, South Africa. I have been here since the end of 2013, initially doing rehabilitation work, mainly with penguins, then running a small conservation business involving children’s programmes and partnerships with local conservation organisations.

Throughout my wildlife career, two things have stood out for me; guiding and education. Guiding has always been my first love and I have never grown tired of it over the years. I can honestly say that I am good at it and should you choose to book a walk with me, you will have an unforgettable one-of-a-kind experience.

I am not a person that will tell you how much I love animals or how passionate I am about wildlife. I have always maintained that if you can’t see my passion during a tour with me then clearly I am not.

So…interested? Why not book a walk with me now and you can experience it all for yourself; you won’t be disappointed!

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