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Shining A Light On The Southern African Wildlife College

South Africa is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet – and protecting our natural resources is important in so many areas, from attracting tourism to being responsible global citizens.

There are many organisations with long-standing histories in South African conservation which have saved many species of our unique fauna and flora from destruction. One such organisation is the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), an accredited private, independent non-profit higher education and training institution specialising in conservation education, training and skills development.

Whether fostering a K9 counter-poaching unit; addressing the needs of conservation; finding viable, collective solutions to help counter wildlife crime; developing capacity to ensure sustainable wildlife management effectiveness or protecting targeted species, SAWC is perfectly situated in the Greater Kruger National Park in Limpopo to provide working examples for students to learn conservation theory and best practices in and out of the classroom.  

SAWC offers courses in Natural Resource Management; Field Ranger Training; Responsible Resource Management; Community & Youth Development; the K9 Unit; an Aerial Support Unit or the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) Unit. All training comprises theory as well as practical skills and has been developed in close collaboration with conservation agencies. The organisation has trained more than 23 000 students since its establishment in 1996, along with over 15 000 field rangers, flown nearly 3 000 hours for conservation, protected over 1 million acres of our natural environment and has alumni operating in 130 parks in 60 countries. 

Wildlife poaching – particularly of rhino – is a huge problem in South Africa and Field Rangers are often both the first and last line of defence when poaching incidents occur in protected areas. SAWC’s expert trainers are able to equip Field Rangers and trainees with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully work and operate in these wilderness areas. They provide tactical and operational training at all levels – from basic unarmed training to specialist anti-poaching skills – which includes apprehension and evidence-gathering techniques.

Their K9 unit was established in 2015 in response to the rising levels of wildlife crime. In the Greater Kruger, in particular, where there was a need for the deployment of more Field Rangers with specially trained dogs. Using dogs – both on-leash with handlers and off-leash as free running packs – proved to be a game changer as part of the anti-poaching toolkit and continues to be incredibly effective in helping to combat wildlife crime. Both on-lead and off-leash tracking dogs serve a purpose and statistics show that poacher apprehension grows from under 10% to over 60% when a dog and Ranger team is at play. 

MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet customers are able to support the work of organisations like the Southern African Wildlife College each time they swipe their MySchool card – or linked Woolworths card – when they shop, at no cost to them, by selecting the organisation as a Beneficiary. “SAWC has been instrumental in training Field Rangers for the work that we support in the Kruger National Park,” explainsNaeema Alexander,who looks afterCSI Implementation at MySchool/Woolworths. “Each small donation can play a role in training a Field Ranger, helping house a new K9 trainee or contribute to essential community outreach that helps people understand the value of our delicate natural resources