Can Artificial Intelligence Help Pinch Poachers?
31 October 2019
We are excited to announce that SA College for Tourism Tracker Academy has opened a training base on South Africa’s largest private game reserve, Tswalu Kalahari reserve in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Thank you to Tswalu Kalahari, which renovated a lovely old farmhouse and made its massive 110 000 hectare pristine arid savannah available for training purposes. Additionally, the Tswalu Foundation equipped the base and provided the funds necessary to sponsor a tracker student.
The idea is to give focus to rural communities of the Northern Cape such as the ‡Khomani San, as well as those from Namibia and Botswana. Tracker Academy graduate Siphiwe Mandleni (2011) is the resident trainer at Tswalu. Siphiwe is assisted by his wife, Thembisa Mankangeni, who is to qualify as a teacher later this year.
The first eight tracker students arrived on 1 May 2017 to begin training at the Tswalu campus. The Tswalu training will be run independently from the existing programme conducted at Londolozi and Samara private game reserves, thus an application will be made to the Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) to have the programme formally accredited. The course is already endorsed by the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA), which has been tremendously supportive of the initiative.
Tswalu has also offered tracker students the opportunity to engage with its Wildlife Protection and Animal Monitoring departments as a means to bolster these two modules of the tracking programme. This will allow students first-hand experience of the skills required to conduct anti-poaching patrols and collect data in the field, which will increase their employability.
Story by Alex van den Heever
SA College for Tourism Tracker Academy Manager
Visit the Tracker Academy website for more