Message from the Chairman
Challenges that face conservation organisations change on a continual basis and differ substantially between organisations, both within South Africa and across the SADC region. Training plays a pivotal role in terms of rehabilitating and sustaining wildlife areas. It is comforting to know that training and capacity building for staff of protected areas across our region is of utmost importance to the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) and is the principal business and corporate direction of the SAWC – to empower future leaders in the fields of tourism and conservation.
One of the fundamental strategies of the College is to create a new generation of managers who are equipped to deal with the key challenges facing protected area management. It is no secret that poaching in Africa (specifically South Africa) has increased over the past few years. The days of subsistence poaching being the only type of poaching happening on South African soil are long gone, as the widely publicised rhino poaching has hit southern Africa in a severe fashion. There is major concern over this exponential increase over the past few years, and authorities are taking the matter seriously with additional training and co-ordination units being developed.
The National Wildlife Crime Reactionary Unit has been established to tackle rhino poaching in South Africa and aims to improve communication and coordination among the anti-poaching initiatives within South Africa. The conservation industry is grateful to the Liberty Wildlife Foundation (Netherlands) who has, through the College, continued to support the training of field rangers in basic and special skills training, in a concerted effort to address the on the ground need of capacity building our foot soldiers in the conservation industry.
The first year of implementation of the SAWC’s new business plan has proved a success, with the College training over 800 participants in 50 skills development courses and in so doing moving the College closer towards sustainability. The continuous building of sound relationships with conservation organisations is notable, as memorandums of understanding were signed with the Ministry of Agriculture (Mozambique) and draft MoUs developed between Malawi Parks and Wildlife; and Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Authority. These organisations can now be added to the impressive list of conservation organisations that already have formal working relationships with the SAWC.
It is also of utmost importance that the SAWC has identified the need to develop and train courses for community members in buffer zones surrounding protected areas. New courses will include new venture creation and alternative livelihoods, and undoubtedly the SAWC will have a future impact aiding the community-owned businesses to benefit from the tourism value chain.
This is just one example of how the SAWC remains relevant to the needs of the conservation industry. It is a dynamic institution which continues to have a positive impact on conservation.
Dr M.D. Mabunda (PhD)
Chairperson of the Board Southern African Wildlife College
See the Southern African Wildlife College’s comprehensive 2010 Annual Review by clicking here.