Gold guide exam. One of the extraordinary things that happened was a leopard hung on a tree in our immediate testing area, and we had the opportunity to test the lads on their observation skills! I was amazed at hells gate because it is a transit route for walkers, bikers, matatus (taxis) and all and sundry, and this leopard was cool as a cucumber, still as a rock but in plain view in the branches of a huge fig tree; only 2 out of the 8 silver level guides being examined actually saw the leopard without having to be prompted to look again and again.

Gold guide training at Cottar’s. We had fun! We learnt how to deal with difficult questions from clients, etiquette at the dinner table, how to get a faulty high lift jack to work, and how to walk with a gun in the bush. We had debates, wrote thesis on important conservation issues, and learnt about what do our guests really want – wilderness with wildlife, not just wildlife. We learnt how to approach wildlife, how to pick up trash thrown out by other less aware tourists, and the emotional intelligence needed to know what a guest needs before they themselves know they need something (i.e. ‘marking their territories’, blood sugar levels, Tusker stops, sun protection etc.)
This training course may well fill up fast based on the responses and feedback from this first session, so book now if you are a silver level KPSGA interested to go the next level to gold!

Stuart Butler project.
‘Elephants r us’ – star newspaper article.

In regards to the Mara, and our conservancy, it seems that we are making serious progress! There are no cattle in the game reserve, and a new program of basing the rangers in the new station nearby Cottar’s is finally paying off! Furthermore, the villages that were intransigent about moving off from the future conservancy land are moving as we speak, and I fully expect a clear conservancy by the middle of July at the latest. It has been a long hard road, but unless every member of the group ranch is for the idea, it just won’t get off the ground. It seems we have achieved this. I will update you as it happens…
Following on from my presentation on the Mara conservancy model in South Africa at the ‘beyond enforcement; resource rights, tenure and sustainable use as a way of tackling wildlife crime’ symposium hosted by IUCN, SULI and IIEED, all advisory bodies to world government on how to change policies and slow down the loss of biodiversity, wildlife and natural habitat around the world, I have since been invited to speak to European Union decision makers this month to support their cause. Unfortunately I won’t make it as I am already pre booked, but I will be making a 10 minute film for them to see, explaining the payment for ecosystem services methods we are using in the Mara, and why it is probably the only mechanism that can secure wildlife in Africa into the future. We will post it on our websites for your interest in a week or so.
With that folks, all I can say is that bookings are looking up with our team doing a magical job in converting interest to firm bookings, even in this tough environment where every camp is discounting like mad. The rains have come with a vengeance! It has been flooding, and the other day the tractor’s hydraulic system locked (ingested water into the engine) trying to get our guests to their plane! (Ouch!)
Cheers for now!

– Calvin Cottar