The Mantis Academy is a two month training program that has been devised specifically to train up those who want a career working as a field guide in Africa, while the Gap Year Program provides the opportunity for people to experience conservation efforts near Port Elizabeth in South Africa. If you’d like to know more, why not take a look at the Shamwari blog? You can find posts by Craig there, too.
Craig won the opportunity to take part in the Mantis Academy training by winning the first edition of a competition organized by Columbus Zoo in conjunction with zoo-keeper and conservationist Jack Hanna.
During his time on the program, Craig was educated in the skill and knowledge required for being a field guide in both game reserves and private parks in Africa. One of the central elements of the training program is learning how to identify the flora and fauna, and understanding their inter-dependent relationships.
One of the most important parts of the program is being made aware of the methods and effects of poaching which is having such a detrimental effect on the numbers of rhino and elephant numbers in African reserves.
Another of his highlights was the time Craig got to spend with the gap year students and getting hands-on experience with animals, including assisting a vet with darting a baby white rhino to administer antibiotics, a tricky sounding challenge!
He was also part of a team that identified a new-born Cape Buffalo that hadn’t previously been identified, meaning that he got to play a tangible role in the local conservation efforts.
Having finished his trip, Craig would strongly recommend both of the programs to anyone with an interest in conservation.