The Southern African Wildlife College’s (SAWC) ‘Free Tracking’ Hound project was awarded the Innovation award at the Kruger National Park (KNP), Marula South regional Achievement Awards held at the Nombolo Mdhluli Conference Centre at Skukua on 7 February. This award was for a group effort between SAWC; KNP section rangers and KNP airwing to get this project operational and a real success factor in counter-poaching.
The Achievement Awards recognise employees who have excelled in their respective fields of work and celebrates peers and colleagues serving SANParks in conservation. The College, represented by CEO Theresa Sowry, and Johan van Straaten of the SAWC K9 Unit, was very pleased to be a part of the 20th annual ceremony.
The underlying message during the event was a sobering one addressing counter poaching and the continued need for efforts and integrity in this department. This year’s ceremony also paid tribute to Respect Mathebula, a SANParks field ranger and past student of SAWC who tragically lost his life in the field in July last year.
The Innovation award was given to the SAWC in recognition for “engineering” a successful approach towards locating and apprehending suspected poachers within the Kruger National Park.
“This award is particularly meaningful as it acknowledges recognition for the SAWC’s efforts in countering poaching by our peers and colleagues. Our four-tiered approach, which includes well trained field rangers, our K9 capability, aerial support and community interventions, is proving to be a game changer. It is nothing less than humbling to share the stage with others who are serving SANParks in conservation,” said Sowry upon receiving the award.