Your Guide


 

Mark Jones

I am a FGASA Specialist Field Guide (previously known as Level 3), and have been involved with wildlife and conservation since 1998. 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 the organisations that oversee the guiding industry today.

Being a self-trained guide and heavily involved in various educational programs and guide training courses over the years, I have developed a very different approach to guiding. My life has been so intertwined with wildlife over the years, that I know no other way (or better way for that matter) than to use animals as powerful teaching tools; without entertainment or money being involved.

I started my career at a large and very busy wildlife rehabilitation centre in the Limpopo Province. The focus was mostly on all mammals and larger birds such as eagles, vultures. One of my absolute highlights at the centre and indeed, in my life, was rearing a newly-born hippo until the age of two years; and then successfully released and simultaneously introduced her to a male, 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. The rehabilitation and rearing work alone in the summer was pretty busy. A place that I will never forget.

I have guided for many years in and around the famous Kruger National Park, both in driving and walking safaris. I have guided 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 ranger, 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; initially as an ‘authentic guide’ from Africa for what was then, Europe’s first overnight safari lodge as a bona fide ‘ranger from Africa’, and later on as a zookeeper on the large carnivore section. I spent time as an education officer in the peak seasons and helped with various talks and VIP tours. 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.

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