Southern African Wildlife College

Sustainable Use and Field Guiding

The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) was approached in 2011 by a number of conservation organisations across the SADC region (including members of the SAWC Board of Directors), to develop a professional training programme for Field Guides and Professional Hunters. The reason for this request was a simple one, the industry needed to transform and provide entrée to the economic benefits derived from the sustainable utilization of its wildlife resources. 

Most training courses for Field Guides and Professional Hunters, especially in South Africa, are essentially finishing schools for individuals who have grown up in the industry. But how could previously disadvantaged individuals (PDIs) become part of this aspect of the wildlife economy? 
The 10-day course offered was nowhere near the professional standard needed to train PDIs. It would have been irresponsible for the SAWC, a needs-driven training institution for SADC, to not develop a professional two-year program to address the need and allow access of local people to this employment sector.

The Sustainable Use and Field Guiding Department of the SAWC works with ring-fenced funding, and recognises the fact that within conservation, the concept of sustainable utilization is an essential element, especially in certain countries in Africa. It is for this reason why the two-year accredited Professional Hunting course, is offered to a few carefully selected students by this training department. Historically, previously disadvantaged individuals were denied access to the hunting industry, and this is something this department is trying to redress, whilst at the same time ensuring that the highest ethical standards within the hunting industry are maintained.

To be fully ‘sustainable’ hunting must address three levels of sustainability. Hunting must be: 

  • Ecologically sustainable – for the good of the many and various wildlife species (numbers and composition) 
  • Genetically sustainable – age class and breeding opportunities, for the maintenance of healthy animal genetics and trophy quality, and finally 
  • Financially sustainable – this is the economic engine which drives habitat protection and by so doing, wildlife conservation. 
These are all philosophies taught by this department. Professional Hunting and Field Guiding are similar in many aspects. It is for this reason that a lot of emphasis is placed on the Field Guiding aspect of the training conducted (see programmes below) which is trained over the first year, with only a select and dedicated few students being invited to stay on for the second year of training and ultimate completion of the Professional Hunting qualification.

  • Dangerous Game Site Guide - NQF 4, TG/DANGAMSITEGD/4/0044 
  • Dangerous Game Site Guide - NQF 2, TG/DANGAMSITEGD/2/0043

In comparison to the large number of students which pass through the SAWC (around 1500 annually) the numbers of guides and PH students trained per annum is very small (about 10 annually) due to the intensive nature of the training and ring-fenced funding opportunity. 

Dr Kevin Robertson
Sustainable Use and Field Guiding :: Business Unit Manager
+27 (0)15 793-7322
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