“So if the eyes are milky or you have to scrape the carcass off the road surface, you should seriously consider NOT consuming the roadkill,” said one of the trainers while presenting his lecture.

“Let us look at WHY we should use warm water when preparing the perfect cup of coffee, using the Bialetti filter coffee maker,” said another…

“Turn to the person sitting next to you and ask a question where the answer could not be a simple yes or no – did the person’s eyes move slightly to the left top or bottom right? This indicates that …” is another example of a trainer’s lecture to other trainers attending the 5-Day Training and Development Practitioners course presented by Mrs. Dianne Gibson at the Southern African Wildlife College.

Eleven trainers presented theoretical and practical lessons on various topics ranging from the components of a ballpoint pen to making the perfect taco at home, how to conduct a patrol using hand signals, using binoculars correctly while wearing your spectacles, the classification of trauma, reusing plastic bottles, understanding the importance of infrastructure maintenance, taking the tyre off a split rim, how to flirt successfully and so much more.  

What do these topics have to do with wildlife conservation you might ask? The answer is very simple – NOTHING! “Think out the box and get out of your comfort zone. Involve your theorists, pragmatists, reflective learners and activists. Do not come to class tomorrow without being well prepared,” said Di. Trainers had to compile their presentations in such a way that the learners complete the four-step learning cycle by incorporating tried and tested methods to increase the level of understanding as well as stimulating the desire to keep on learning. Whether the trainer is preparing a theoretical or practical lesson, it requires careful planning and preparation, and trainers spend an average of around eight hours of preparation to present a one-hour lecture.  

Di certainly had her hands full considering that she had to capture the interest and involvement of a group of highly skilled trainers (and departmental managers) with a combined training experience of more than a century. She mastered this challenge with flying colours through her skilful guidance and sometimes adding a tad of just letting go. The trainers had heated group discussions, analysed each other’s training styles, complimented the strengths, constructively criticised the weaknesses, got to know each other out of their comfort zones and last, but not least, had a lot of fun and laughter.

The final result of this course was the confirmation that the trainers and lecturers at the Southern African Wildlife College are not only passionate about training and their diverse fields of expertise, they are subject matter experts with a wealth of knowledge. All the trainers have the honest desire to support their learners in reaching their individual goals by successfully completing the various qualifications and programmes which they signed up for.

Article supplied by Ruan de Flamingh: Trainer: Protected Area Integrity Department.

Photos by Mariaan de Kock – Protected Area Integrity Department/African Field Ranger Training Services.