The skills needed to run protected areas are increasingly complex. They involve elements of community relations, conflict resolution, project planning, and financial control, over and above a sound knowledge of ecology, natural resources and wildlife management.
In 1993 the vision of a wildlife college that would train southern Africans to manage their natural heritage was first discussed. At the urging of members of the South African and SADC conservation fraternity, the World Wide Fund for Nature, South Africa (WWF South Africa) agreed to launch a fund-raising campaign to help address this problem, at least in part, with the establishment of the SAWC.
After considerable planning, and with the endorsement of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat. this vision was realised. With the assistance of a DM10-million (R25-million) grant made by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ) via the German Development Bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau(KfW), the construction of the College was made possible. The impressive College campus was completed in record time and opened its doors in 1997 thanks to cooperation between WWF South Africa, the international donor community, local and internationally-based companies and individual supporters.
Built on land that was donated by Mr Hans Hoheisen to WWF South Africa in 1991, the campus is located inside the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, west of Orpen Gate near Hoedspruit. The Hoheisen family bought the properties in 1933 as farmland. Later the properties were integrated into the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Around 1968 Mr Hoheisen withdrew his properties from the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, and they then formed part of Kempiana under the management of the warden of Timbavati. The property was managed in this way until Mr Hoheisen donated the properties to WWF-South Africa as part of his estate.
The land on which the College now stands continues to belong to WWF-SA, and the Kempiana property is managed by Kruger National Park as a contractual national park. A private game lodge, Ngala, has traversing rights over a large area of Kempiana, while the College has both a training area and a limited traversing area.
WWF South Africa and the Peace Parks Foundation continue to support the College, and have over the years assisted with fundraising to meet the operational needs of the College. The College has now moved towards self-sufficiency. With the establishment of the Southern African Conservation Education Trust in 2000 (now registered as the Southern African Wildlife College Trust), and with the appointment of its own fundraiser, it is envisaged that financial security will be assured in perpetuity.