INEOS Automotive and Tracker Academy celebrate 2022 graduates
  • The first ten INEOS Automotive bursary students recently graduated from Tracker Academy.
  • Last year INEOS Automotive agreed to sponsor ten Tracker Academy bursaries per year, for a period of three years – 30 bursaries in total.
  • Tracker Academy’s overarching vision is to restore indigenous knowledge in Africa.

Last year INEOS Automotive announced a partnership with the SA College for Tourism Tracker Academy by offering ten bursaries a year over a period of three years.

Last month, the first ten of these bursary students graduated from Tracker Academy. The graduation ceremony took place in Graaff Reinet at the SA College for Tourism and was a day of celebration for students and their families.

Since 2010, Tracker Academy’s overarching vision is to restore indigenous knowledge in Africa. The focus is to continually improve the standards of tracker training and assessment techniques by engaging in rigorous peer review and steadily deepening their training efforts. Tracker Academy aims to prove that ancient tracking skills are relevant in modern conservation management efforts.

According to Tracker Academy general manager Alex van den Heever, “We want our graduates to become skilled and passionate members of the conservation effort in Africa. To have a real impact, they need the highest level of practical tracking skills. We want our graduates to succeed in everything from conservation to animal monitoring, anti-poaching, animal habituation, environmental education, and eco-tourism.”

Renias Mhlongo, whose title is Trainer Mentor for Tracker Academy, was born in 1963 in the Kruger National Park. Renias is one of the last people alive to be raised on the original traditions of a Shangaan hunter-gatherer and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to tracking.

“With every student we teach, we are also teaching a family and a community”, says Mhlongo, “all our students come from disadvantaged rural communities who rely on the surrounding nature for food, water and even building materials. They already have a deep respect for the natural world, so once we train them and give them the tools to turn this into a profession, it often has a direct impact on their families and extended communities as well.”

Tracker Academy is accredited by CATHSSETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) and endorsed by FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa). It is the first tracker training school to achieve this distinction in South Africa.

The Academy has four main training facilities based at Londolozi Game Reserve in Sabie Sands, Tswalu Game Reserve in the Northern Cape, Lapalala Game Reserve in Limpopo, and the SA Wildlife College in the Kruger National Park. “These reserves are all partners of Tracker Academy, and this allows us to teach students in a variety of different environments, which is vital to becoming an expert tracker”, says van den Heever.

INEOS Automotive is the first automotive company to be actively involved in an upliftment initiative of this nature in Southern Africa, one that touches social ecology and community participation by providing job skills and an employment opportunity, based on normal employment standards, to retirement age.

“There were so many reasons for us to get involved”, says Tim Abbott, INEOS Automotive Head of Region South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa, “not only does Tracker Academy teach students, but the long-term impact is community upliftment and increased conservation awareness. It’s a fantastic approach that benefits everyone involved.”