Our Training Departments

The SAWC’s training departments have never been pre-determined, but rather identified after consultation with conservation organisations regarding career pathing and skills gaps across the SADC region. The associated training interventions have been grouped into conservation themes in order for the SAWC to have functional training departments, targeting specific skill sets. The services offered by each training department assists the College in meeting its identified goals.

Natural Resource Management


To accelerate the journey towards professional conservation management by providing inclusive, applied thought leadership and context driven education that has a global reach.

Target group

Prospective and current managers and leaders from conservation organisations/community reserves.

Our Natural Resource Management courses fall within two departments, Responsible Resource Management  and Skills Development for Conservation. Students attending these year-long programmes represent junior to middle management level conservationists from across the SADC region as well as those earmarked to move into management positions. Every year the SAWC accepts approximately 50 students on these programmes. The diversity of culture, gender, age, and location has become synonymous with the participants who learn so much from each other’s experiences. A wide variety of short courses, aimed at targeting management level skills development, are also offered. University students both locally and internationally also register for these applied learning products as part of the practical or study abroad requirements.


To provide effective and relevant training, and innovative specialized support services as well as leadership training  to front line conservation managers, leaders, and implementers (field rangers) in Africa and beyond.

Target group

People involved, or wanting to be involved in conservation and  situational wildlife crime prevention’.  Including but not limited to, area integrity personnel, law enforcement and counter poaching operators (including K9, control room operators, wildlife crime analysts, and aerial application/capacity)

Over the past decade, this department has experienced a substantial increase in the number of field rangers trained. This was as a direct result of the onslaught of rhino poaching in 2010. The department responded in an appropriate manner, increasing the number of train-the-trainer programmes, and delivering training to a number of SADC countries off site. In addition, the department expanded area integrity services on request of conservation organisations to include a canine (K9) assets (dog teams for field rangers) and aerial surveillance (light sport aircrafts) monitoring, ground to air patrols and training. The applied learning/learning by doing approach used is also helping to inform industry on best practice. 


To provide training on best practice that is relevant in the SADC region and context for the responsible and inclusive use of natural resources.  This is driven by a holistic approach and aims to be both needs-driven and innovative.  The purpose is to advance conservation and conservation-compatible land use throughout the biodiversity economy by providing training that delivers professionals who are capable of developing innovative resource use solutions as well as leading and communicating this philosophy.

Target group

Inclusive wildlife economy (all levels)

The Responsible Resource Use department is servicing an industry where opportunity exists for the transformation, and which will allow for holistic, inclusive conservation to gain traction. The unit is poised to work with government -in developing the wildlife economy specifically through GEF 6 and 7 programmes.

In addition, the department is working closely with land restoration projects. The Herding for Health initiative is a good example of how important it is to remain adaptive and flexible in our approach to training, whilst assisting our partners with curriculum development when required.   

The department is also driving its guiding programmes. Its courses are accredited with Field Guides Association of Southern Africa, which allows for further scope beyond the local market especially in terms of online offerings. 

Skills Development for Conservation


To deliver inclusive, accessible and effective programmes that act as a gateway into conservation and an understanding of the benefits thereof. In addition, through its Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment Unit it works towards a sustainable environment that is people-centred and includes a livelihoods resilience stream; targeted skills development stream; alongside a governance support stream in collaboration with communities.

Target group

Community participants  across conservation sector (all ages).

This department has historically trained impressive numbers as a direct result of government funding support for learnerships, specifically aimed at unemployed youth.  It runs a number of learnerships and skills programmes as well as the Youth Access: Bridging programme aimed at bridging school leavers into the conservation sector.

With the initial support of WWF-SA, a great addition to this department over the past six years has been the establishment of the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) unit. This addition was a direct adaptive response to the change in the conservation landscape that the SAWC identified as an essential link to our offerings.

This unit opens up possibilities of addressing training and support beyond the scope of ‘within wildlife areas’ and looks at the change in the conventional conservation paradigm. The RISE approach is more holistic than conventional Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). It works towards a sustainable environment that is people-centred and includes a livelihoods resilience stream (potential for agro-economy, wildlife economy); targeted skills development stream (focusing on training in the social dimensions of conservation and governance development); alongside a governance support stream in collaboration with communities (focusing on long-term site development).  It is supported by an adoption of a rights-based approach that provides a way to make direct connections between human well-being and the environment by linking biodiversity conservation and human rights in order to secure livelihoods, create healthy and productive environments, and ensure people live with dignity.

The vision of this all important, forward thinking unit is to be the benchmark for good practice in the empowerment of communities to govern, manage and conserve their natural resources in support of their livelihoods across the SADC region. The unit is able to achieve this through customised training and long-term support processes that aim to enable people and institutions to participate effectively in community conservation, communal land reform and livelihood resilience processes. Furthermore, it contributes to livelihood sustainability associated with conservation through developing and nurturing relationships and partnerships with communities living within or near conservation areas.

Our Programmes

Our unique, needs-driven approach to further education, skills training, university courses, and tailored courses address some of the most pressing issues facing people working in conservation.