The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 Oct 2022
The Southern African Wildlife College’s recent field ranger graduation ceremony was remarkable for two reasons – it was the biggest in South African history, with 119 National Certificates in Nature Conservation: Resource Guardianship being awarded, and half of the recipients were female.
The ceremony marked the culmination of a 12-month intensive training programme that was part of a large scale two-year project by the National Treasury’s Job Fund, aimed at bringing about significant change while stimulating the creation of alternative livelihoods, poverty reduction and socio-economic development.
The project objectives were two-fold; to train 257 unemployed people from historically disadvantaged communities as field rangers, and to create employment opportunities in the conservation sector that will help address the skills shortage largely created by the rhino poaching crisis.
Over the course of the two-year initiative, 257 jobs were created with the support of five employer organisations, including Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Limpopo Department of Economic Development Environment and Tourism, South African National Parks, The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation and Wildlands Conservation Trust.
The learners, from Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces, were selected through an interview process and a physical selection course that was facilitated by the college’s African Field Ranger Training division, whch also conducted the training. It was a mentally and physically demanding programme, but well worth it according to graduate Thabiso Mongale: ‘I am proud of what I have accomplished this year. I am excited – no, beyond excited! I am ready to do this very important job.’ Fellow graduate Glander Tshabalala echoed his sentiments, adding ‘We will do everything we can to protect the environment and to educate others. It is our duty to make sure we look after nature for future generations.’
Guest speaker Phumelele Ngcobo, Project Manager for the Jobs Fund, was very moved by the certification ceremony and the passing out parade by all 119 students who graduated this year. ‘The impressive display by such a large contingent of field rangers showcases the students’ teamwork, discipline and attitude and shows just how far these students have come in terms of their own personal growth, their employability and their commitment to conservation, she said. ‘The National Treasury’s Jobs Fund is proud to have been part of such a well-run project that has delivered on its mandate,’ she added.
Issued by the Southern African Wildlife College