With community development, climate change, poverty and the growing demand for protected commodities such as rhino horn impacting Africa’s natural resources; it becomes a daunting task to address the ever-increasing environmental challenges facing the continent. As such, it has become progressively important for conservation organisations to equip the custodians of our natural resources with the skills to tackle the testing times ahead.
In developing human capital through transfer of skills and competence as well as facilitating the participation of local communities in the conservation and tourism value chain, SAWC is, with the support its partners and with the input of conservation agencies across the region, constantly developing its scope of training. This helps to ensure an innovative and unified approach to the sustainable management of natural resources, conservation areas and wildlife species across the African region where communities are also able to benefit.
In striving to develop the potential of its students, the training offered is as practical, relevant and as current as possible, based on the principle of best practice. In addition, the course methodology focuses on outcomes-based instruction, which ensures improved performance when learners implement these skills in the workplace.
After spending the first decade laying a solid foundation, efforts during the past few years have led to the College being recognized as a SADC centre of specialization in conservation education, training and skills development. The College is also registered with the Department of Education as a Private Provider of Higher Education and Training (HET) by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) in South Africa, which is responsible for the accreditation of Higher Education learning programmes. This is a milestone in the College's history as it means that its certificate courses are now credit bearing enabling students to further their studies at other recognised tertiary institutions.
The College’s scope of business traditionally included protected area management, field ranger training, learnerships and short courses in a variety of conservation and environmental subject areas. Since implementing its business plan in 2010 and restructuring it again in 2014, the College has expanded its relevance and reach and created opportunities to ensure its financial sustainability. It now includes a much more focused learning by doing approach aligned with the needs of the conservation industry across the region together with community engagement, which in turn supports the objectives of the National Biodiversity Economic Development Strategy and targets of the Department of Environmental Affairs’ vision.
Appointed as an Institute of Sectoral and Occupational Excellence (ISOE) for its contribution to skills development and organisational capacitation by CATHSSETA; the custodian of national qualifications in the tourism, guiding and nature conservation sector in South Africa, the Southern African Wildlife College offers training in support of the imperative for responsible and sustainable business strategy and practice in the wildlife and nature-based tourism sector. In testing and ensuring best practice for conservation organizations, the SAWC has also facilitated projects on site so that it can ensure that its students are well integrated and equipped to meet current conservation challenges and the needs of the industry.
The College recognizes that in order to remain relevant in a dynamic sector, there is a need to establish strategic long term relationships, strengthen its networks and expand it training to include capacity building mechanisms that allow for the protection of its wildlife as well as and the rights of ordinary people in buffer zones who are the ultimate stewards of land and natural resources. This includes socio-economic dimensions in conservation, focusing on the development of the wildlife economy. Essentially this then also underpins the three priority objectives promulgated at the World Parks Congress for moving forward on protected areas and biodiversity conservation including:
PARKS – Valuing and conserving nature. The aim being to strengthen policy and action commitments for the expansion, connectivity and better management of parks and protected areas to cover all areas important for biodiversity and ecosystem services.