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Winner of the 2014 Mail & Guardian Skills for Sustainability Award
The Southern African Wildlife College, situated 10 km west of the Orpen Gate of Kruger National Park, opened its doors in 1997. It is proudly supported by WWF South Africa and Peace Parks Foundation, who share the vision of building the capacity of staff in wildlife areas. The programmes presented at the college cover the full spectrum of skills needed to sustain and rehabilitate wildlife areas. The foundation has been sponsoring student bursaries since 1997 and in 2004 took over from WWF South Africa the responsibility of covering any operational shortfalls.
Following the development of a new business plan in 2010, the college has expanded its relevance and reach and created opportunities to ensure its financial sustainability. It has also developed and diversified its training products to cover a broad spectrum of essential skills needed in the conservation sphere. The college now presents courses that will not only develop and open up career opportunities for conservation personnel but will also help to transform the biodiversity economy of the region and open up southern Africa’s existing protected area network and transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs).
Following its registration as a Private Further Education and Training (FET) College, the college achieved accreditation as a Private Higher Education and Training (HET) institution. In 2013 the college also entered into a new agreement with Peace Parks Foundation, by which the foundation contributes to the annual costs of the college’s flagship training courses, the Higher Certificate: Nature Conservation – Conservation Implementation and Leadership, and the Advanced Certificate: Nature Conservation – Transfrontier Conservation Management. The foundation also assists with fundraising for conservation projects and serves as a business partner for training initiatives in the TFCAs.
During 2014, the college developed its 2015–2019 business plan, which follows on from its strategy to diversify its training products, establish strategic long-term relationships within the conservation sector and take advantage of business opportunities in the skills development field. In June the college won the prestigious Mail&Guardian Greening the Future Award in the newly established category ‘Skills for Sustainability’. The college was also a runner-up for the 2014 Rhino Conservation Awards in the category Best Awareness, Education and Fundraising for rhino protection and conservation.
The year 2015 was the most successful one in the history of the college. Its income target was surpassed and altogether 2 000 students were trained across different conservation disciplines.
A finance agreement between the Southern African Development Community (SADC), KfW and the college is enabling the expansion of the college’s current facilities, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW. In anticipation of this, Peace Parks Foundation signed a pre-financing agreement with the college to finance staff housing, infrastructure, a new biomass aerobic system, a sewerage treatment plant and a fully operational field-ranger training camp.
As the college was appointed as the project manager and main contractor it engaged with 11 villages under Chief Mnisi to assist with the expansion project. To fairly appoint subcontractors representing all the communities, a community committee was elected by the community members. Criteria were set to qualify for an opportunity to serve as a subcontractor and these were distributed to the communities. The community committee selected 15 contactors from the 64 applications received to do the construction work, thereby employing 154 skilled and semi-skilled labourers. Some inexperienced contractors were given a chance and received on-the-job training. They were also enrolled in a business management programme at the college and received a reference letter from the college to help them procure other contracts. In all, seven houses were completed, as were the ranger camp offices, kitchen, ablution facilities, and tented accommodation for students and instructors. The ranger camp can accommodate 200 students and seven instructors.
The college’s flagship protected area management programmes were designed to help achieve long-lasting conservation results across the region. These programmes provide training that offers practical knowledge and skills while cultivating the appropriate attitude to conservation. In order to confirm that the courses are still valued, relevant and achieving results for the individuals, wildlife areas and employing organisations, qualitative and quantitative information is gathered annually during workplace site visits. Visiting the workplace of alumni and current students allows the college to witness and assess first-hand the role the college has played in their professional careers and lives. It also enables the college to determine the value of the students to their parks and employers. These surveys are an important part of the quality management process to ensure a better product for current and future students.
2015 marked the 18th year that the college has been offering the protected area management programmes. During the year, 50 students from nine different countries across the region completed the college's Higher and Advanced Certificate Programmes in Nature Conservation.
The college was privileged to be included in HRH Prince Harry’s visit to southern Africa. Following his visit to Kruger National Park on 2 December 2015, he met with students at the college’s field-ranger training base and then went on to meet with the graduands of the protected area management training programme. During his visit, Prince Harry spoke of his love of Africa and concern for its wildlife. In addressing the graduands, Prince Harry called the battle against poaching a test for all humanity, which we cannot afford to fail. He said: ‘I am delighted to announce today that my brother’s United for Wildlife partnership will work with, and fund, the Southern African Wildlife College so that its graduates are equipped with the best techniques and technologies available to protect some of the world’s most endangered species’.
The collaboration will provide significant funding to help train wildlife area managers and field rangers who can protect southern Africa’s endangered species, while also providing support to the community-based natural resource management unit. In addition, the development of and training in the use of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) will be funded, with the emphasis on capacity building and best practice. This will ensure credible and transparent monitoring to determine the effectiveness of various wildlife area management practices, in particular anti-poaching efforts.
In 2015, the college continued to play a vital role in countering wildlife crime in the region by training field rangers at various levels and conducting aerial patrols though its Wildlife Guardian Programme. The college also worked closely with government and private reserves on the western border of Kruger National Park to assist with the monitoring of rhino populations and the tracking of poached animals.
As part of the Rhino Protection Programme, the college was integral to training that took place in the Kruger and Limpopo national parks throughout the year, while extensive training is on the cards in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife reserves, including those owned by communities, in 2016. The training of patrol leaders for Kruger National Park was developed and expanded to include several special operations not previously covered. Buy-in from Kruger National Park and the operational sector allowed college staff to do a lot more hands-on training and development of the current patrol leaders deployed in the park. The inclusion of ground-to-air training, using helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, also increased the capabilities of the field rangers. Night-vision equipment improved the operational capabilities of the rangers and increased their confidence to conduct night patrols. Kruger National Park specialists added value to the process, integrating their operational experience to the training.
Musketry training was conducted by a college trainer who travelled from section to section in the park and conducted the training for each field-ranger group stationed there. The programme has proven to be invaluable for field and section rangers alike. The adaptability of the college’s African Field Ranger Training Services Division allowed for the best possible training of the rangers in the field.
In June 2014 the college won the prestigious Mail & Guardian Greening the Future Award in the newly established category ‘Skills for Sustainability’. The college was also a runner-up for the 2014 Rhino Conservation Awards in the category ‘Best Awareness, Education and Fundraising’ for rhino protection and conservation.
The Southern African Wildlife College Trust was registered in 2000 as the Southern African Conservation Education Trust when WWF-SA saw the need to establish a trust fund in support of the work being done by the Southern African Wildlife College and to promote conservation education across the region. In 2011, the name was changed to the Southern African Wildlife College Trust to better align with the Southern African Wildlife College, its sole beneficiary.
Deserving conservation and wildlife management students at the college qualify for scholarships and bursaries awarded by the trust, which also awards funding to other priority projects at the college. A major objective of the trust is to continue to raise funds to assist the college in perpetuity. The assets of the trust are aligned with the WWF-SA Prescient Living Planet Fund, its objective being long-term capital growth with a high level of sustainability and environmental integrity.
Donors supporting the college
The Southern African Wildlife College would like to thank the following donors currently supporting its work, as well as past donors listed in previous years' Annual Reviews
Bathawk anti-poaching aerial patrol donors
Count Lucio Labia (South Africa)
Dallas Safari Club
First Rand Foundation – Rand Merchant Bank Fund
First Rand Trust
Friends of African Wildlife and its donors
Hoedspruit Steel & Cupboards
Hunter Legacy 100 Fund (in support of approved SCI Foundation projects)
K-9 Anti-Poaching Unit donors
KLK USA ‘A Wild Night Out’ auction donors
Lee-Anne Davis – Our Horn is NOT Medicine donors
MAVA Fondation pour la Nature
Mr Durcesio Mello (Jetstar Aviation – Brazil)
Mr and Mrs Weber (Switzerland)
Mr and Mrs Walhof (Netherlands)
Ms Natalie Robertson (Dubai)
Mrs Fanja Pon/Ms Sommer Johnston (Germany)
MyPlanet Rhino Fund
Safari Club International Foundation
SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association
Scott Dunn (via Tusk Trust)
Southern African Wildlife College Trust and its donors
Swedish Postcode Lottery
The late Ms Lahann (South Africa)
The Rufford Foundation
The Sheldon Family Trust
Transboundary Conservation Foundation
Tusk Trust (UK)
Tusk Trust (USA)
WWF Nedbank Green Trust
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)