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Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:08 am 
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Have followed the postings with interest. I also have my 5 cents.

First.
The uniqueness of Kruger is that its one of the few parks in Africa that you can visit on your own in your own vehicle.
If you follow the history it was the first one in the world.

Two.
We regonize the fact that tour operators must have the opportunity to drive through any national park and they do feel the obligation to present the Big 5 to their customers. That is a normal marketing tool. Satisfied customers come back and spread the word. And the individuals and tour operators generate income which is very important to Sanparks.

Three
Both parties, individuals and tour operators must obey the rules and regulations and that is where we are having problems and the postings by forumites tend to get a bit heated up.

I do think however, that SANparks have the obligation to answer here. If only to ensure the general public that the tour operators dont get away with their speeding, being the first at a sighting etc. I myself havent witnessed any misbehaviour by the tour operators (jeep jocks) while being in Kruger.
But i now do get the impression that something is starting to spread as a bad nuisance through Kruger.

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 Post subject: Open Safari Vehicle Operators and Field Guides
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 10:35 am 
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Location: Numbi Gate, Kruger National Park
To all fellow forum members, my name is Wynand du Toit and I am the General Manager for Untamed Africa and Safaris. I am a registered and qualified field guide with FGASA and THETA and have several years experience as a field guide. I have read the comments on the behaviour of the guides and the vehicle operators and want to sincerely apologise on behalve of my company and guides. You are quite correct in stating that action must be taken against the culprits and I would appreciate any comments directed to me. My email address is management@untamed.co.za and I would welcome any correspondence. I am also a member of the Lowveld South FGASA Commitee and we represent most of the field guides operating South of Satara Rest Camp. I have also noticed that the atmosphere and relationships between the public and the field guides have changed over the past few years and am distressed by this. We have instituted an in-house training program at Untamed Safaris and we are addressing these concerns. I would welcome all and any feedback. We are also concerned about the opinion of the public regarding this industry and we would like to better the image of the open safari vehicles and their guides. Please feel free to contact me with your concerns and suggestions. All our vehicles have been equipped with Satellite Tracking systems and our guides have been instructed not to use the 2 way radios to call in sightings, but only for use in emergencies.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 11:16 am 
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Hi Wynand and welcome to the Forum. You've finally given a Forum voice to the industry and I think your post will have a very positive effect. :)

vthebushman wrote:
All our vehicles have been equipped with Satellite Tracking systems and our guides have been instructed not to use the 2 way radios to call in sightings, but only for use in emergencies.

While reading this thread, I'm sure you gathered that our biggest problem is the use of two-way radio's to communicate sightings since this then leads to major congestion at sightings which spoils it for the rest of us. I appreciate your comment above, but how do you enforce or 'police' this? :?

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Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:10 pm 
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vthebushman wrote:
We have instructed our guides to only communicate on the long range channel and currently are in the process of removing the vehicle to vehicle channel.


Thanks verymuch for your response Wynand and may I add my welcome as well.
I am sure this will go a long way in improving the situation, and ultimately the pleasure of all visitors to our Parks, which after all is what we all want. :D

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:47 am 
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Hi vthebushman

Thanks for your positive response, at least I and i'm sure other forum members know that you pleas and concerns are not falling on deaf ears.
Removing the vehicle to vehicle radios would be first prize, but while they are in operation a suggestion that was used when my brother was a field guide and seemed to work....
I do believe guests also put pressure on the guide and when the word LIONS comes over the radio they hear it and pressurize the guide to go to the sighting which kind of put him between a rock and a hard place.
The guys working with my brother started using "code" words for certain game and that way a report of TAU (lion) would come through and that way the guests would not know what it is and the chioce is now on the guide to either go to the sighting or not. This would only work if the guides are all together on this and have respect for speed, traffic jams etc. This suggestions might sound a bit naive but it did work.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:12 pm 
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Hi Snoobab,

What you are describing is standard practice in the private reserves. Guides never call out animals by their English name but use local languages (like sjangaan) for calling in sightings. This is done to prevent the guest from getting too excited. I've been on a number game drives in private reserves where lions or leopards were called in while we were already on our way back to the lodge for diner. The vehicle calling in the sighting might be as far as 10km away so there's no way that you'll go to that sighting. If guests would know that lions were spotted during the drive they would/might pressure the guide to go there. I agree that if the safari companies in Kruger would use the same radio procedure that their guides would then not be pressured by guests. They could also start using earpieces so the clients wouldn't be able to listen in on the radio.

All the operators should get together and decide on a radio procedure and 'sensitivity' rules so they can share the park in harmony with the other visitors.

M.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:29 pm 
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All the radio talk I have ever heard in the Park is in a mixture of Shangaan, Zulu and a little place naming - for example they refer to the Lower Sabie Road between Skukuza and Lower Sabie as Eloff Street (as it is so busy). When we have been on the private reserves we do in fact understand what is being said to a certain extent and then of course when they are wearing earpieces which most of them do, you do not get to hear any of the radio talk.

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 Post subject: Re: Open Safari Vehicle Operators and Field Guides
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:21 pm 
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Jumbo wrote:
gwendolen wrote:
gwendolen wrote:
Raise the guides' salaries so that they don't have to depend on tips? :?


I still think this is the best solution in the long run. Well trained guides that are well paid will give their guests a wonderful experience, with or without lion and will no longer have the need to race around the park.


100% Gwen! :thumbs_up:
If you pay peanuts you get monkeys…. :twisted:

I'm sorry guys but I don't agree with you. Who ever said that you get big tips if you race from one big 5 sighting to another. If you do that you're not a guide but a taxi driver. A good guide will interest his guest in the complete ecosystem and not just the big 5. The best drives I've ever done where with guides that explain things about the trees, grasses, animals and the way they interact. That's what guiding is all about, but that requires some formal training....and that's what's a fair number of the safari vehicle drivers have not had. They don't know any better than to drive from sighting to sighting because they don't have a clue what to talk about when they don't see animals. A fair portion of SANP personnel that do night drives suffer from the same lack of general knowledge (or general disinterest).

M.


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 Post subject: Open Safari Vehicle Behaviour
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:11 pm 
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Location: Numbi Gate, Kruger National Park
Jumbo, thank you very much for bringing the behaviour of my guides to my attention albeit via the forum. i have already acted on this and the guides in question (the photo) have attended a disiplinary hearing, being found guilty and have each received a final written warning valid for 12 months. As for the vehicle that sped onto the H3, if you can give me an indication of the time this happened, I will be able to trace the culprit via our satellite tracking system and convene a hearing.
Our standard procedure when a guide is dismissed for breaking the rules is to inform both FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) and the Registrar of Guides - Anthony Ngomane of the hearing and outcome. As for the radios, I appreciate all the suggestions, but the only solution is removing the vehicle to vehicle channel and for the office to monitor the channel chatter, no codes or anything allowed. Our service level agreement with SANParks clearly state that our guides are not allowed to call in any sightings and that the radios are only to be used in emergencies. I also agree with you that you should forward all these complaints to Lucy Nhlapo, the HOD of Tourism. Further to this, the easiest way to control the behaviour of guides, is to discipline the guides. I have no control over the guide when he acts inconsederate, and to punish the company and thereby punish the guides that obey is not fair. I would value your reply. Regards, vthebushman


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 Post subject: Re: Open Safari Vehicle Behaviour
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:39 pm 
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vthebushman wrote:
Our service level agreement with SANParks clearly state that our guides are not allowed to call in any sightings and that the radios are only to be used in emergencies.

Unfortunately this is not always the case on the ground. On 2006/02/03 at ± 15:40 while we were watching 7 cheetahs on the S65 a vehicle of Untamed arrived with guests. Immediately another vehicle was contacted to notify it of the sighting to which the other driver responded that they were ±7min away. Every now and then the drivers will communicate to find out how far the other vehicle was. The drivers communicated in their mother tongue so I could not follow the conversation but the mention of cheetah and times were clear enough.

I must add that both the drivers was very well behaved at the sighting especially the one who arrived first as both we and that vehicle did not venture to close so as not to chase of the animals before the other vehicle arrived. The second vehicle approached a little to fast so the animals got a fright and left within a minute after its arrival but by this time we had spend enough time with the cheetahs.

I’m not even going to mention the registration numbers of the vechiles as Untamed is definitley not the only company who’s drivers communicate sightings to each other.

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 Post subject: Field Guides
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:09 pm 
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Location: Numbi Gate, Kruger National Park
Thank you to all for the positive feedback on the forum, i just know that things will improve and we will be able to resolve all issues. Just as a background on Untamed Africa, we are fortunate enough to be the largest safari operator in the Kruger with a fleet of 30 new Land Rover Game Viewers and we employ just short of 130 people. All our guides have a minimum of THETA NQF 2 qualification and some even have a FGASA Level 1 qualification. We have now started with a program whereby we encourage them to qualify with FGASA and they then receive an increase based on this qualification. We have formed a training academy endorsed by FGASA and accredited by THETA. Our head lecturer is Stuart Thomas, a FGASA Level 3 SKS DA qualified guide with experience in the private game reserve industry. We have received various comments from people calling us "Untrained Africa" etc and this usually comes from employees and owners of the other safari operators. We do not share a radio channel with them.
As for FGASA and their management, they have a huge task in front of them and they need all our support, I communicate with Brian on a near daily basis and have always only received good advice. The best solution to all the havoc in the Park is to discipline the guide breaking the rules, and this will set an example to the other guides, but this must be done in a structured way. The field guides are all also over worked, my guides work a maximum of 4 days a week and every 2 months receive a 6 day long break whereas some of the other guides work up to 28 days a month. We have also dropped the prices on the safaris to allow the South African public the safari experience, I was shocked to see that South Africans where charged onwards of R 790.00 per person. If any of you are in the area of Numbi Gate, feel free to pop in and visit us.


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 Post subject: Open Safari Vehicles
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:23 am 
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Location: Numbi Gate, Kruger National Park
Thank you for all the comments and suggestions. We had a hectic week and with Easter Week here, believe me, there will be several incidents in the Park. I have instructed all my guides to behave and keep to the rules and have also dispatched several of my supervisors in unmarked vehicles to observe the actions of our guides. The problem with not acting against the guides but acting against the company set a oppurtunity for a staff member with a grudge to cause a demerit lodged against the employer. As for the meeting on the 15th June 2006, this is a annual meeting called by SANParks to discuss the actions and operations of all Open Safari Vehicle Operators in the Park. As far as I am concerned, this has never been a success because the participants tend to attack each other and not really discuss and action on valid complaints and suggestions. During the meeting last year, participants discussed new ablution facilities etc and not how we will be able to stop and better the attitude between the guides and the public. I have never participated in this discussions and rather listen to the comments and then rectify from our side. We are also not angels in this story, I have heard horrific stories regarding the behaviour of my guides and still hear such stories, but we also try to act on these as soon as possible.


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 Post subject: Safari Operators
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:25 pm 
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I am n Jeepjoky and I love every min of it!! :D So I will try to comment on same off the concerns that the public have on the Open vehicles as n Guide and not n operator.

I find that n lot of the people blame most of the speeding and traffic jams of safari vehicles to the uses of Radios. Yes you are all correct to say that thy are the reason but not in the way the public thinks. As Wyand said that thy as Untamed Safaris don't have the other operator channels thy cant communicate with others, is the reason for this. Thy are not the only ones as there are lot of company's that cant communicate with one another. Now here is were the problem starts. Let me explain.

On n busy morning at gate X several safari company's pick up different groups of clients at the gate .What you have now is 6,7,8...different company's with leads to about 25 vehicles. Half of these company's can't communicate with each other, 15km from the gate is n pride of lion because no one can communicate you start finding that these vehicles starts pulling up and before you can say lion you have 15 safari vehicles and 20 private vehicles at the sighting. Dew to this every body try to get to the sighting first before the others reason being that the pride of lion will have had n noth of all the vehicles and move off. If all these company's had the same channels the guides could have told the others to hang back because of congestive at the sighting. 4 Years ago all these company's had the same channels and the responsible guide could control them self at these sightings and wait a bit till the first 3 vehicles moved off and the next 3 moved in. Now it is in possible because you don't now where the other vehicles have gone.

Taking away the radios wont solve the problem but only make it worse as there are some of us that will stay away from traffic jams as we also don't like it. Rather get all the operators to get the same channels and let them set out n rule to restrict the safari vehicles to only 3 or 4 vehicles. But now what about the private people and there vehicles? How can you control them? Should the park look at more roads to lessen the impact on the existing roads as the number of visitors to park in the last 5years have almost doubled(Rather than closing roads like the 3De loop along the Sabie river from Skukuza to Lower Sabie because the private concession got n Birdie hide there a gross the river)? Let gate controllers make people more a were of the rules off the road like in the old Days

Yes I do agree that their are speeding by some off these Guides (not the Company as they don't now what there guides are up to and that is why taking reg.,time, place, and company name and report it to the relevant company of these speeding) but don't groom every body under the same brush.
We as guides are also fed up with these rule breakers but most of the guides are freelance and are they scared that they wont get work if they complain about others. These Guides give all off us n bad name and we are trying to get rid of them it is not always easy.

Am working for Safaris direct as a permanent employed guide and do get n reasonable good Salary. My tips only make up about 1/5 of my salary if i had n good month. Believe me that if you show your people to much they don't a preshehate it and they don't tip you. I always ask my company to in form tourist to tip us if they happy with there service as some nations don't tip in there country's as it is all ready work in the service they get there thinking it is the same here( Like Australians, Italians,French,Spanish and a lot more tan you guys now......South Africans 90% of them don't tip :twisted: :twisted: ).The Guides you see speeding have either started guiding or still haven't learnt that people don't always worry about how much you have seen but rather how good of n guide you was

And for those of you that Have comments on the leopard attack at Nsemani dam first get the fact's and then think before you comment :cry: . if you want to now email me i was there!!!!!( Just to give you figures 5 Open vehicles and 30+ private cars Blocking every body in)

Waiting for reply's and would gladly reply back


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