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SA College for Tourism
Tracker Academy

Magazine Hill
PO Box 314
Graaff-Reinet
6280

The current skill of tracking is mostly limited to the identification and following of an animal’s track. Historically however, tracking encompassed a far greater variety of signs, calls, behaviour and skills in interpreting them. Successful tracking requires the combination of experience, knowledge and patience. A talented tracker must employ physical endurance and mental focus in often-difficult environmental conditions over extended periods.

 

The current state of tracking

Traditional tracking skills have disappeared rapidly over the last two decades. Trackers are poorly informed today and as a result are not adequately remunerated. Many trackers are facing serious social problems as a result.

• Approximately 2500 trackers are employed in South Africa, but often in name only or as part of a marketing exercise.

• Trackers employed in the eco-tourism, environmental education and research industries earn as little as R1800 ($200) per month because most lack formal education and/or training.

• Few skilled trackers can be found in the anti-poaching industry.

• Many of the new generation of trackers have received limited or no training from their place of employment

• CATHSSETA and the national department of education do not formally recognise advanced levels of tracking.

• In most cases the tracker provides the safety on a wildlife safari.

• Trained and employed trackers remain in their jobs five times longer than their guide or research colleagues do.

" There are few (if any) academic institutions that formally recognise tracking as a measurable qualification."

The VALUE of Tracking

The traditional skill of tracking is an indigenous art form which evolved for reasons of human survival. Tracking has often been misrepresented as an unexplainable and mystical skill possessed only by a privileged few. This misconception has delayed the formal adoption of the skill as a practical application that can be taught and assessed objectively and as a result, there are few (if any) academic institutions that formally recognise tracking as a measurable qualification.

The Tracker Academy changed this when it obtained the formal approval of the South African sector education training authority, CATHSSETA, for its tracker training programme on National Qualification Framework Level 2. The Academy is currently developing an advanced level tracker training which will be submitted to CATHSSETA, offering the authority the opportunity to formally accredit and certify more advanced levels of tracking. This would be an example to the rest of the world of the recognition which should be extended to the intrinsic value of indigenous knowledge.

Well-trained and knowledgeable trackers who have studied and practised tracking at a recognised institution can provide in global environmental needs. These needs include environmental restoration, animal monitoring and habituation, specialised safaris, education and wildlife protection.

Through intensive training and assessing the tracker can be restored to the revered status of the original expert trackers of southern Africa.

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SUCCESS STORIES

Two Tracker Academy graduates are currently engaged in an animal monitoring project in the Western Region of the East Cape Province of South Africa to better understand the predator-prey relationship between jackal and springbok, the results of which will have a direct impact on the regional economy.

At Samara Private Game Reserve, in the semi-desert Karoo, another two graduates are engaged in monitoring a Black Rhino population as part of Samara’s anti-poaching efforts which could be exported with success elsewhere.

In June 2013 the first two of four Tracker Academy graduates departed for Brazil where they will participate in a jaguar habituation project at the Caiman Ecological Refuge in the Pantanal. The project is aimed at making that part of Brazil more tourist friendly in the interest of the local economy.

Animal monitoring projects using Tracker Academy graduates are pending in Spain and Uganda.

Graduate Bongani Toto now works with his dog, Assegai, for K9 Conservation in anti-poaching

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The SACT Tracker Academy is a not-for-profit organisation which trains disadvantaged rural people in the traditional skills of wildlife tracking. The accreditation of its tracker training programme with the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) made the Tracker Academy the first tracker training school to achieve this distinction in South Africa. More than 94% of our trainee graduates have found permanent employment within the tourism industry.

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