Lorraine Doyle, Wildlife Manager at Thanda Safari in KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the few women in the safari industry who continue to make their mark in wildlife conservation. Through her own guide training academy, Africa Nature Training and Thanda Safari’s Research and Volunteer Programme, she passionately transfers her knowledge about nature in more than one way.
According to Doyle, the qualities that come with being a woman can often put you as female safari guide ahead of your peers. Her career is proof, considering that she is the only female guide working for the award-winning WWF-partnered American-based travel company, Natural Habitat Adventures, in Africa.
Doyle says that there are various reasons why women can fill the boots of a safari guide just as well (if not better) than men.
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In general, women are more relationship orientated than men, which means they are often more in tune with guests’ emotions and feelings. They can therefore manage certain situations with greater sensitivity.
It’s in the small things on safari
Doyle says that a comment that often gets made when she takes people on safari, is that they had a “different type of safari experience” than what they have experienced with male guides. “Not better or worse, just different.” She says that the feedback mainly revolves around the fact that women tend to pay more attention to the smaller creatures and the environment as a whole, which adds another dimension to the experience.
Become a role model
As the safari industry is currently still very much a male dominated industry, it boasts great opportunity for women who want to get a foot in the door. “I believe that being a woman safari guide (or ranger) creates an opportunity to act as a great role model for young girls,” says Doyle.
Safari is a passion
It is true that passion for something has no gender boundaries. Doyle, however, says that having been in the industry for over 20 years, she knows that the few female safari guides she has met, are exceptionally passionate about what they do. “Perhaps it comes from having to work extra hard in many instances to prove oneself,” she says.
Make it by multi-tasking
Being able to multi-task in a male dominated industry gives female safari guides the edge they need. Doyle says that when juggling a backpack, radio, rifle, binoculars, and guests on a bush walk, it is definitely their skill of multi-tasking that make them excellent safari guides.
In the end, it is probably also the ability to make some small contribution to nature, while living in the bush that makes being a female safari guide even more worth it.