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.
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!
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.
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, 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