South Africa has a rich geoheritage, and many of the spectacular rock formations are displayed in our Game Reserves. Tecoma Strategies has partnered with FGASA (https://www.fgasa.co.za/) to develop geological field guides and training material, and has initiated a pilot project at Kariega Game Reserve (https://www.kariega.co.za/), in the Eastern Cape, near Kenton on Sea.
Tecoma has been collaborating Park officials, with FGASA, with academics from Rhodes University, with the Geological Society, and with geological professionals in the Eastern Cape to develop a guide to the geology of the park and associated training material. The intention is that this will provide a template for other parks, in order to describe the rich diversity of the geology that we have across the country.
At one of the spectacular outcrops of folded Witteberg strata, with the Bushmans River in the foreground
The Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA)
FGASA is at the forefront of advancing ecotourism in South Africa and they have done tremendous work in training and accrediting field guides in various fields. After completing the FGASA Field Guide Certificate, and having accumulated at least 2 years of active guiding experience, a field guide may embark on attaining the FGASA Professional Field Guide Qualification. The specialist guiding areas currently include Biomes, Tracking, Birding and Wildflowers, and the process includes completion of a learner workbook on conducting a guided experience. No geological FGASA specialist Guide currently exists. Tecoma partnered with FGASA to create a park-specific geological field guide for the Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, the template of which would be used in creating geological field guides for other parks, and a NQF-leveled FGASA course tailored towards training field guides in basic geology, so as to enable them to enrich their field guiding experience with geological knowledge.
The Pilot Project
On the 9th of September 2019 the Pilot Project to create the first field guide was launched at the Kariega Game Reserve. In attendance was Alan Weyer, general manager of Kariega Game Reserve, Chris Reynecke, conservation manager and ecologist at Kariega, Michelle du Plessis, managing director of FGASA, Annie Tumner, friend of Matt Mullins, Charles Pote, photographer, and Joseph van Scheltema, field geologist. The launch signified a union between geology and tourism and a concerted effort to preserve the natural beauty of South Africa.
The meeting kicked off with opening remarks from Alan Weyer, who is also a renowned and respected Eastern Cape historian. Alan entertained the room with interesting historical accounts relating to the early settlers of the Eastern Cape and how these people interacted with, and utilised their natural surroundings to survive. Chris Reynecke, conservation manager and ecologist at Kariega then shared some insight on the importance of plants and animals to a working ecosystem. Michelle du Plessis also shared thoughts on the importance of tourism to South Africa’s economy and how it can be used as a tool to conserve our natural environment. Joseph van Scheltema presented the project rationale and touched on the importance of conserving our geoheritage and what this project aims to achieve.
After the formal proceedings and a commitment to the success of the project from those present at the launch, the group went on a game drive around Kariega Game Reserve. How often do you get an experienced ecologist, the head of the Field Guide Association of South Africa, a formidable historian and a geologist on one game drive? The experience was nothing short of riveting. Chris conveyed fascinating facts and stories about animal and plant behavior, while Alan shared historic accounts of the park. Joseph shared interesting facts about the geology of the park and highlighted geological landforms and phenomena and how these relate to and interact with the ecosystem of the Reserve. There was not a dull moment. This experience encapsulated the essence of this project. To equip field guides with the knowledge of the geology of the game parks they are working in and to spread awareness of geology to enrich the tourism experience.
Over the next 12 weeks, Joseph, together with Chris and Charles surveyed the Kariega Game Reserve, documenting and describing the geology of the Park. This information was then used to create a detailed field guide.
Game drive at the Kariega Game Reserve. From left to right: Annie Tumner, Michelle du Plessis, Chris Reynecke, Alan Weyer, Joseph van Scheltema.
To date, significant progress has been made with the geological field guide for the Kariega Game Reserve. The preliminary field guide contains a geological map, a geological history of South Africa, a geological history of Kariega Game Reserve and numerous photos and descriptions of rock types found in the park, geological landforms, interactions between biodiversity and geology and a history of the use of geology by recent and prehistoric humans.
[Update April 2021: In conjunction with Park personnel, FGASA, and the Rhodes Geography Department, Tecoma is currently completing phase 2 of the project, which will produce a smartphone-enabled App of the Eastern Cape game parks.]
If anyone would like to be part of this exciting initiative, please contact:
Matt Mullins at Matt.Mullins@tecomastrategies.com
Joseph van Scheltema at Joseph@tecomastrategies.com
A link to the full Field Guide can be found here: