The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) forms part of a contractual National Park within the Kruger National Park which in turn forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Located 10km west of Orpen Gate in the Limpopo Province, the College was initiated as a WWF-SA project and registered as a non profit company. The building was completed in 1996, and the College first opened its doors to students in 1997.
The training offered by this SADC recognised centre of specialization in conservation education, training and skills development covers the full spectrum of skills needed and focuses on providing training courses that will not only develop and open up career opportunities for conservation personnel but will also help to transform the biodiversity economy of the region and facilitate southern Africa’s existing protected area network and broader trans-frontier conservation areas (TFCAs).
A variety of National Certificates and Skills Development Programmes are integrated into the College's curricula. These training interventions are offered to either employed or non-employed learners. They can also be offered off-site depending on the client's needs and availability of appropriate or suitable training venues.
National Certificates are usually year-long programmes whereas Skills Development Programmes range from three weeks to three months. All National Certificates include contact sessions at the College (or College approved training venues) as well as work integrated learning. The College provides both theory and practical components during training and assessments and, given its location and facilities, allows the learner to complete his or her workplace training on site.
Most of the Skills Programmes offered at the College are derived either from a National Certificate in Resource Guardianship qualification at NQF Level 2 or Natural Resource Management, Terrestrial qualification at NQF Level 5.
The most popular Skills Programme offered by this department is the Conservation General Assistant Programme at NQF Level 2. This Skills Programme is offered mainly to Government or parastatal organisations and allows the learner to obtain a full Skills Programme Conservation General Assistant over a minimum two-month period. The modules include training in basic infrastructure maintenance, fire management, building works, carpentry, window glazing, welding and other skills as well as operational knowledge which the learner can implement within a conserved area.
The SAWC now trains close on 2,000 people per annum. In doing so, it offers training in support of the imperative for responsible and sustainable business strategy and practice in the wildlife and nature-based tourism sector thereby providing natural heritage managers, and particularly protected area managers, from Africa with the motivation and relevant skills to manage their areas and associated wildlife populations sustainably and in cooperation with relevant stakeholders including local communities.