The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 October 2022
A project awarded by the South African National Treasury’s Jobs Fund to the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) will ensure that 256 unemployed youth are trained and placed in permanent employment. The majority of the learners will, on graduation from a year-long skills development programme, have completed a National Certificate in Nature Conservation: Resource Guardianship, with 10 of the learners – all females – completing the Skills Programme Dangerous Game Site Guide.
Year one of the project, comprising the training of 136 youth, kicked off on 22 March 2015, with all the learners graduating at National Qualifications Framework Level 2 in February 2016. They will now be placed in nature reserves and wildlife areas in three provinces, namely Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.
The graduation ceremonies took place at the SAWC, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Midmar Training Centre and at the Somkhanda Game Reserve managed by Wildlands Conservation Trust.
All 136 graduates will be placed and employed in various reserves in Limpopo province and at two community-owned reserves in KwaZulu Natal, Somkhanda and Mayibuye Game Reserves, as well as in Kruger National Park, which will take up 16 of the learners, including the 10 female Site Guides
Mr. Ruben de Kock: who heads up the Protected Area Integrity African Field Ranger training services division at the SAWC emphasised how adequate training and discipline are vital to sustaining protected areas and threatened species, such as rhino. “A high priority must be placed on community-based natural resource management, poverty reduction, alternative livelihoods and biodiversity economy strategies to contribute to biodiversity conservation, socio-economic and tourism development,” he said
Mr. John Matjie, the manager of Human Resource Development for Limpopo province’s Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), who attended the graduation ceremony at the SAWC, expressed his gratitude by thanking all involved in the project. “Our thanks is extended to the Jobs Fund, the SAWC and its donors who provided the matched funding requirement, for the opportunity given to these young men and women. This funding has enabled these learners to acquire the knowledge and skills, which will empower them not only to be placed in employment but to become the guardians of our protected areas and threatened species,” he said. “Thanks must also go to the LEDET team for the constant support in arranging workplace training for these students. The commitment and perseverance shown by the learners must also be commended as a lot of fortitude was required during the training,” he added.
LEDET will take up 60 of the students trained for deployment within their various provincial reserves. The employment contract of these students will commence on 1 April 2016, as will the employment contracts of the learners placed in other nature reserves and community-owned reserves including Somkhanda and Mayibuye, which are taking up 20 and 15 field rangers respectively.
The selection process for the balance of the students, who will be trained during the second year of the project, started in March 2016. These 120 learners will go on to complete their training, including their work-based practical training during the year. Their year-long training programme will culminate in 2017, when they will graduate and be placed in employment.
Issued by: The Southern African Wildlife College
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