Last year Tracker Academy started an initiative to identify experienced trackers who have advanced their tracking skills to a level beyond the norm. With the support of FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) Tracker Academy established a Lead Tracker training programme. The Academy also enjoys accreditation of its skills development tracker training program by CATHSSETA, the sector education training authority which oversees skills development in the tourism industry in South Africa. CATHSSETA is required to conduct a rigorous annual audit of training providers like Tracker Academy. The audit includes among others, a close inspection of the provider’s training program and assessment methods, and makes provision for anonymous interviews with its students. The Academy’s relationship with CATHSSETA has taught it a great deal about training and facilitation techniques. The good news is that CATHSSETA has approved of the Lead Tracker name and training program concept.

Its all in the details.

Three of Londolozi’s most senior trackers, from the left, Judas Ngomane, Richard Siwela and Jerry Hambana.

The Lead Tracker training program is aimed at trackers who have worked for many years in the ecotourism, anti-poaching and animal monitoring sectors of the conservation industry. Once accredited, it opens the way to confer for the first time, a nationally recognised tracker certificate for these talented experts. As such, the programme represents formal recognition for people who may not have had the opportunity to be educated at school, however, contribute as much value to conservation as those who have distinguished university degrees!


The entire Londolozi ranger and tracker team of 2014

As a pilot project, in preparation for the accredited form of Lead Tracker, Tracker Academy conducted a 6-day practical tracking assessment of 8 experienced trackers living in villages adjacent to Kruger National Park.  Kruger National Park forms part of the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Area or Peace Park.  The participating trackers were assessed on track & sign identification, following of animal trails, approaching dangerous game on foot and bird alarm calls.  Robert Hlatshwayo managed to pass all the above mentioned components with a score of 98%. Lead Tracker assesses the most rigorous and detailed tracking assessment administered by the Tracker Academy and to be awarded the certificate requires that the candidate pass all components.

Lead tracker group from July 2014

Lead tracker group from July 2014

Robert has been working at Londolozi since 2009. He started as a security guard who welcomed guests at the boom gate, the entrance to Londolozi. He formed a great passion for tracking and on quiet days at the boom gate he would read and study the art of tracking. He was invited to the Tracker Academy in 2010 and he went from strength to strength. He began as a tracker at Londolozi in 2011. 

Robert Hlatshwayo with Lead Tracker certificate

Robert receiving his award from Alex.

Robert, your Londolozi family as well as all the the Tracker Academy are so very proud of you! Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment.

Written by: Alex van den Heever

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Alex Van Den Heever


Alex spent his formative years growing up on a cattle farm in the Western Cape, South Africa. After completing his studies in Marketing and Business Management, he joined world-renowned Londolozi game reserve in 1995 as a game ranger. Alex’s greatest fascination during his ...

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on Trackers taking the lead

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Yea Robert! Great story and accomplishment!

Juli Schwartz Bear

We were lucky to have Robert as our tracker when we were there in June. He was fantastic!!!! Congratulations, Robert, on your accomplishment! We haven’t stopped talking about our visit to Londolozi!


Congratulations Robert, that a great achievement!

Jill Grady

That’s fantastic, congratulations Robert! What a wonderful achievement and a well earned award!

Kate Collins

Excellent! Well done Robert and well deserved.


Congratulations Rob, this is a fantastic achievement. We look forward to watching you grow from strength to strength.

Ryan James

Well done Robert. Looking forward to doing a walk with you!

Chris Wood

Rob, we will track again with you in September 2017. Who ever the ranger is assigned to you now that Sean has departed you will be our request as the tracker. You are a gifted individual and you will advance even further in life. Jane and I will assist where we can help in your progress. Best regards, Jane and Chris.

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