Tracking wildlife is not just an art and a science. Being able to identify and analyse the tracks of an animal in the wild is an ancient survival skill that has been passed down many generations of indigenous people in Africa. Unfortunately, with urbanisation and technology, these skills are disappearing at an alarming rate but Tswalu is lucky enough to have a team of extraordinary trackers, all of whom were born in the area and whose skills and knowledge are unique, resulting in incredible sightings and experiences for our guests.
It’s no secret that the sheer size of Tswalu means that the safari experience is dependent on the ancient art of tracking. Our team of trackers, led by William Gaotsenwe, literally does the impossible by finding incredible game sightings and creating everlasting memories of the African bush for our guests.
Says William: “It means a great deal to me to be a tracker at Tswalu because it gives me the opportunity to contribute to a great guest experience. Being a specialist in the art of tracking rare animals such as pangolin, black rhino and the majestic Kalahari black-maned lion is very rewarding and fills me with pride.
Recently I was co-guiding guests who had already been on a number of safaris, but had never seen a pangolin. We set out to find tracks of a pangolin that is known to frequent the dunes west of The Motse. Within an hour I spotted the tracks; our guide stopped the vehicle and I embarked on foot to find this elusive creature. After about 40 mins I found where it had entered a burrow the night before. I waited a while until it emerged, then called our guide on the radio, and he brought the guests on foot to my location to see the pangolin. They were ecstatic to see this animal; it was a very memorable moment for guests and guides alike!
In 2017, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve partnered with Tracker Academy to establish a training campus on Tswalu. The focus of the Tswalu training base is to enable the Khomani San (Bushmen) and local communities of the Northern Cape (including Botswana and Namibia) to be trained as professional trackers. The fundamental ambition is to restore indigenous knowledge in Africa. The aim is to empower tracker graduates to become ambassadors for the African wildlife industry by bringing authenticity and accuracy to environmental education, wildlife protection, eco-tourism, monitoring and research.
Tracker Academy is a training division of the SA College for Tourism which operates under the auspices of the Peace Parks Foundation. The Academy’s overarching vision is to restore indigenous knowledge and wildlife tracking skills in Africa. The training programme is formally accredited by the Sector Education Training Authority (SETA), making Tracker Academy the first tracker training school in South Africa to receive formal recognition for its certificate.
The tracker graduates are deployed in jobs in the ecotourism, wildlife protection and animal monitoring sectors of the conservation industry. In our inaugural year at Tswalu, we recruited eight unemployed candidates from the surrounding community and all students successfully graduated at the end of 2017. We are looking forward to yet another successful year this year.