A skills training initiative designed to boost eco-tourism in Southern Africa and combat unemployment has so far exposed a total of 116 students to the demands of field guiding as a career.
The project, funded by the not-for-profit Amarula Trust, saw eight students undergo a month-long training course at the Erindi Private Game Reserve and Wilderness Safaris Damaraland Adventure Camp in Namibia. This is the fourth time that Namibian candidates have benefitted from the programme that extends field-guide training provided by EcoTraining, in association with the Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA).
The initiative comes at a time when Namibia’s travel and tourism industry is set to significantly increase its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism accounted for 14.9 percent of GDP in 2014, a contribution that is expected to rise to 21.6 percent by 2025. The growth of the sector will also result in more jobs. The council anticipates that the 102 500 jobs it currently generates directly and indirectly, will rise to 186 000 by 2025 to represent 25 percent of the country’s total employment.
By facilitating the provision of skills, the Amarula Trust is also helping to tackle unemployment. The growth in tourism means there is an increasing demand for qualified field guides to host mostly foreign guests. Candidates with the potential to develop their careers who are currently working in entry-level positions at game lodges and private reserves are chosen by their employers for the project. When they are promoted after undergoing the course and they vacate their positions, they also create employment opportunities for others.
The latest Namibian course involved eight candidates from six game lodges and private reserves. Students were taught about the natural, physical environment and ecology, with the accent on climate, biomes and diversity. Some of the areas they covered included arthropods, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, geology and soils. They also learned about astronomy, tracking, how to drive a 4×4 and even hosting of guests.
COMPILED BY: MELISSA JANE COOK. SOURCE BY: DE KOCK COMMUNICATIONS. PHOTOGRAPHY: VERA BOTHA
THE EIGHT STUDENTS LEARN HOW TO INSPECT DUNG DURING A TRAINING SESSION. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: FRANCOIS DU PLESSIS, STEPHEN CROUCAMP, FREDERIK WITBOOI, REGINAL KOPER, RECTOR TETUKA, JOHANNES KAPENDA, SHELDIN NARUSEB AND KARITJANGUA DAY KASUPI.
OUT IN THE FIELD. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: FRANCOIS DU PLESSIS (ERINDI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE), RECTOR TETUKA (GONDWANA NAMUSHASHA RIVER LODGE), GERHARD VAN NIEKERK (ECOTRAINING), JOHANNES KAPENDA (WILDERNESS SAFARIS SERRA CAFEMA CAMP), STEPHEN CROUCAMP FROM (ERINDI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE), KARITJANGUA DAY KASUPI (WILDERNESS SAFARIS HOANIB SKELETON COAST CAMP), FREDERIK WITBOOI (FISH RIVER CANYON LODGE), REGINAL KOPER )WILDERNESS SAFARIS DORO NAWAS CAMP) AND SHELDIN NARUSEB (ERINDI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE).