Answer by Rory Young:
I trained under the auspices of the then Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management for five years. The system was a combination of mentorship under a professional guide/hunter, written exams, proven time in the field, logged dangerous game experience (especially problem animal control of buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and hippo).
At the end of the five years we had to sit a ten day field proficiency exam in a National Park. During the proficiency exam we had to set up our own fully staffed camp, shoot a buffalo and or other game, prove our tracking and other field skills and of course show a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of our work and its environment. Only one in twenty passed the final proficiency and only two attempts were allowed.
The reason it was so intense and so difficult was that Zimbabwe is the only country to allow professional guides to walk freely in National Parks with clients and to track and approach dangerous game on foot. The system was also set up so that the same pro guides could be quickly transferred into government service as officers as needed. Zimbabwe pro guides are generally recognized both inside and outside the country as the most capable and knowledgeable rangers in Africa. They have a unique combination of knowledge and field skills that are seldom found elsewhere and certainly not as a minimum standard.
There are currently a total of only +-100 Zimbabwean licensed pro guides left. Most are now either involved in training, anti-poaching or other specialist field work, run anti-poaching efforts or do specialist walking safaris in various parts of Africa.
Unfortunately only one or two pro guides are now passing through the system per year now. The requirements have stayed the same but getting the required experience, especially the dangerous game experience is almost impossible. Zimbabwe's economy has also of course declined dramatically in recent years meaning less funds are available for training.
That is how I became a professional guide. I have also worked as a ranger for many years and run both game parks and forests as well and done game capture, anti-poaching and other wildlife-related work.