FGASA Level 1 Modules

A level 1 guide should be able to identify the major living and non-living features of the natural environment in which s/he operates and interpret them at a level based mainly on observation and from an elementary scientific, and cultural perspective.

 

As a general guideline, a level 1 guide must have sound knowledge of the history, geology, plants, and animals (i.e. birds, mammals, reptiles, etc) in the specific area of operation.

 

The FGASA level 1 syllabus includes the following modules:


Module 1: Introduction to Guiding in the Natural Environment

On completion of this module you will:

  • Have an understanding of what a professional nature guide does in terms of job function and where s/he fits into the tourism guiding industry.
  • Know what the aims of nature guiding are.
  • Have an understanding of guiding ethics and how to carry out an ethical guided experience in the natural environment.
  • Have been introduced to a set of guiding principles and a code of conduct for guides from both a FGASA and a Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) point of view.
  • Have an understanding of the legal requirements pertaining to tourism guiding, qualification, certification, and registration.

Module 2: Creating a Guided Nature Experience

On completion of this module you will:

  • Be able to carry out a pre-briefing before embarking on a guided experience.
  • Be aware of determining any medical considerations of your clients.
  • Be able to determine if your clients have any special interests before departing on the guided experience.
  • Have the ability to involve all of your clients as individuals in the guided experience.
  • Take into consideration the environmental factors when it comes to the comfort of your clients.
  • Have enhanced communication skills for guiding in the natural environment.
  • Be able to carry out research on potentially interesting sites.
  • Approach animals taking into consideration all the client and animal factors which will affect the approach.
  • Be able to orientate yourself during the day and at night making use of a number of methods to do so.
  • Know what procedures to follow when lost and have the ability to find water and edible food in the natural environment.
  • Be able to interpret all aspects of the natural environment to enhance the experience of your clients.

Module 3: Geology

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what the meaning of geology is.
  • Have a basic understanding of what the Earth consists of.
  • Know how rocks are classified.
  • Understand how igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks are formed.
  • Know what a mineral is and be able to give a few examples.
  • Have an understanding and knowledge of a few common rock types.
  • Know the weathering properties of some common rock types.
  • Have an understanding of the interrelationships between rocks, soil, climate, vegetation, and animals.

Module 4: Astronomy (Night Sky)

On completion of this module you will:

  • Be able to understand by definition what is meant by a universe, galaxy and solar system.
  • Know the position of the nine planets in the solar system in terms of their distance from the sun.
  • Be able to point out the constellations of Orion, Scorpio, and the Southern Cross.
  • Be able to determine a southerly direction making use of the Southern Cross.
  • Be able to describe the phases of the moon as it is viewed from Earth.
  • Know what is meant by an eclipse and how to differentiate between a lunar and a solar eclipse in terms of the positioning of the sun, Earth and moon.
  • Know how the ocean tides are affected by the moon.

Module 5: Weather & Climate

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know the difference between weather and climate.
  • Understand the process of cloud formation.
  • Know the different types and names of clouds and what weather conditions are associated with these different cloud types and how this may affect the guiding experience.
  • Know the different types of local wind conditions that may apply to the area of guiding operation.
  • Be able to describe the four major influences on the Southern African climate.
  • Understand the general summer and winter conditions of Southern Africa.

Module 6: Basic Ecology

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what ecology is and how important an understanding of ecology is for the nature guide.
  • Have an understanding of the major components of ecosystems.
  • Be able to explain the different levels of organisation in ecology.
  • Know what trophic pyramids, food chains, and food webs are and how to give an explanation of these.
  • Be able to give an explanation of the nutrient cycle.
  • Be able to give an explanation and examples of symbiotic relationships.
  • Know what predation is and the various types of competition that occurs in the natural environment.

Module 7: Basic Taxonomy

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what the meaning of taxonomy is.
  • Have an understanding of why and how living organisms are classified.
  • Be able to name the six kingdoms of living organisms.
  • Be able to place living organisms into the hierarchical order of classification.

Module 8: Introduction to the Biomes of Southern Africa

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what a biome is.
  • Be able to name the seven major biomes in Southern Africa.
  • Be able to explain the biomes in terms of the amount of seasonal rainfall and temperature.
  • Know what the main indicator species are for each of the biomes in terms of animals and dominant vegetation types.

Module 9: Botany and Grasses

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know the anatomy of a tree.
  • Know how to identify a tree and thus be able to apply this knowledge to identify any tree in Southern Africa.
  • Be able to give some interesting facts about trees in terms of general uses, medicinal uses and traditional beliefs associated with specific trees.
  • Know the anatomy of a grass plant.
  • Know how to identify a grass plant and thus be able to apply this knowledge to identify any grass plant in Southern Africa.
  • Know the differences between sweet and sour veld.
  • Be able to explain grassland succession.
  • Understand what is meant by the ecological status and the grazing value of grasses.

Module 10: Arthropods (Insects & Relatives)

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what an arthropod is.
  • Know what the characteristics of insects are.
  • Be able to explain the three different types of insect life-cycles and give examples of each.
  • Understand why insects are so successful and the ecological importance of insects.
  • Have a basic understanding of insect flight and their feeding behaviour.
  • Be able to identify common insect orders.
  • Be able to explain the difference between insects and spiders.
  • Know what the characteristics of the Arachnida are and be able to place spiders into two main sub-orders.
  • Know how to recognise the venomous spiders in Southern Africa which are of medical importance to human beings and know what type of venom they have.
  • Know what the characteristics of scorpions are and how to distinguish between the two main types of scorpions.
  • Know what the differences are between millipedes and centipedes and their particular feeding behaviour.

Module 11: Amphibians (frogs and toads)

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know the characteristics of the class of amphibians.
  • Be able to explain the differences between frogs and toads.
  • Understand the life cycle of frogs and toads and be able to explain metamorphosis.
  • Be able to explain mating postures, nests and types of eggs of frogs and toads.
  • Be able to name and explain the different types of frog calls.
  • Be able to identify some of the more common frogs by their calls.

Module 12: Reptiles

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know the characteristics of the class of reptiles.
  • Be able to identify the features of the three reptile orders.
  • Be able to identify the features of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.
  • Be able to identify the features of skinks, lizards, agamas, geckos, chameleons, monitors, and snakes.
  • Know how to identify the more common species of snakes as well as the potentially lethal families and species of snakes.
  • Be able to name the different types of snake venom, symptoms and effects.
  • Be able to classify snakes in terms of the different teeth structures.
  • Know the different types of reproduction in snakes.
  • Have a basic understanding of the senses of snakes.
  • Know some interesting facts about reptiles.

Module 13: Fish

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what a fish is.
  • Be able to label the external anatomy of a fish.
  • Understand the ecological importance of fish.
  • Be able to explain how fish reproduce and grow.
  • Know the different types of fish feeding behaviour.
  • Understand how fish move through water.
  • Be able to explain the concepts of neutral buoyancy and the swim bladder.
  • Know how the lateral line system works in fish and why it is important.
  • Be able to identify common species of fish.

Module 14: Birds

On completion of this module you will:

  • 1. Know the characteristics of the class of birds.
  • Understand the difference between passerines and non-passerines.
  • Be able to give explanations of the various feeding methods and type of food that birds eat.
  • Be able to point out examples of prominent bird species nests.
  • Be able to give a basic explanation of commonly displayed bird behaviour.
  • Know how to identify birds making use of the various identification pointers.
  • Be able to identify the prominent and common bird species.

Module 15: Mammals

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know the characteristics of the class of mammals.
  • Know the characteristics of the sub-classes of mammals.
  • Be able to explain the foot structure and digestive systems of ruminants and hindgut fermenters.
  • Be able to give the basic physical characteristics, social and feeding habits, habitat and distribution of the common species of mammals.
  • Be able to differentiate between males and females of common mammal species.
  • Have basic behavioural knowledge of the main indicator species ("Flagship") of Southern Africa.

Module 16: Animal Behaviour

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what animal behaviour is.
  • Understand the different grouping behaviour of animals.
  • Be able to explain the different forms of animals communication making use of relevant examples.
  • Have an understanding of various types of animal protective behaviour.
  • Be able to explain the differences between animal home-ranges and territories.
  • Be able to identify and interpret animal signs and sounds.

Module 17: Conservation Management & Historical Human

On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what conservation practices are used in the natural environment.
  • Understand why and how these conservation practices are carried out.
  • Know what a Transfrontier/Peace Park is and be able to give some examples.
  • Know what a Biosphere Reserve is, why they are established and be able to give some examples of working Biosphere Reserves.
  • Have knowledge and an understanding of the early human inhabitants of Southern Africa.
  • Be able to explain the three Stone Age periods that took place in Southern Africa and some of the more interesting Stone Age sites and their significance.
  • Be able to explain the characteristics of the Iron Age sites in Southern Africa and their significance.
  • Have an understanding of the distribution of traditional Southern African cultures.

This module 17 will cover the absolute basics in terms of the topics included, and is thus only a very brief introduction to conservation management and historical human habitation of Southern Africa.

The conservation management section of this module will include the following:

  • The use of fire as a management tool
  • Bush encroachment and alien plant control
  • Erosion control
  • Road maintenance
  • Animal population control
  • Water provision and water-hole rotation

The historical human habitation section of this module will include the following:

  • A brief history of humans in Southern Africa
    • The Early Stone Age
    • The Middle Stone Age
    • The Later Stone Age
    • The Iron Age
  • The distribution of traditional Southern African cultures based on language

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