The first ever African Ranger Congress is set to take place between August 21 and 24, at the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), an accredited ranger training provider in the Greater Kruger National Park.

The congress, with the theme, ‘To build effective capabilities and support systems for rangers across Africa’, aims to provide solutions, knowledge and experiential sharing, as well as the strengthening of cross-border networks, promoting best practice across the African ranger profession.

The purpose of the congress is to broaden and unify the African ranger network, while sharing and identifying challenges unique to rangers in Africa, as well as developing solutions to improve ranger capability and support systems in Africa.

The programme will be run over three days, incorporating both a seminar and a field trip format. The congress aligns with the Rhino Conservation Awards taking place on August 24 in Johannesburg.

During the 2016 World Ranger Congress in Colorado, US, there was a broad representation of African rangers, representing a number of countries and ranger associations. During the meeting, there were a number of calls made by African rangers to host their own ranger congress. As such, the call was taken up by the International Ranger Federation’s (IRF) African representative together with rangers from the congress. South Africa, under the guidance of the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (GRAA) offered to put together the programme.

The African Ranger Congress programme is as follows:

Tuesday, August 21:

  • 12h00 to 12h30: Welcome and opening remarks by Chris Galliers, IRF Africa/GRAA Chair.
  • 12h30 to 13h00: Address by the Chairman of the IRF, Sean Willmore.
  • 13h00 to 14h00: Lunch.
  • Workshop one, 14h00 to 15h30: ‘Key issues facing African rangers’.
  • Workshop two, 16h00 to 17h00: ‘Defining the role, responsibilities and key competencies of the African ranger’.
  • 19h00: Dinner

Wednesday, August 22:

  • 07h00 to 08h00: breakfast.
  • Workshop three, 08h00 to 10h00: ‘Defining best practice for selecting rangers in Africa’.
  • Workshop four, 11h00 to 13h00: ‘Defining best practice for training rangers in Africa’.
  • 13h00 to 14h00: Lunch.
  • Workshop five, 14h00 to 15h00: ‘Documenting best practice relating to ranger support structures’.
  • 15h00 to 15h30: tea.
  • 16h00 to 17h00: Discussion on the way forward, with solutions provided and the next steps to be taken.
  • 19h00: Dinner.

Thursday, August 23:

  • 07h00: Meet at reception.
  • 07h30: Depart for field trip.
  • 10h00: Brunch.
  • 15h00: Return.
  • 15h00 to 17h00: Game drive/bush walk.
  • 15h00 to 17h00: Annual General Meeting, for GRAA members.
  • 19h00: Awards dinner.

Friday, August 24.

  • 07h00: Breakfast.
  • 08h30: Departure.
  • 18h30: Rhino Conservation Awards for invited rangers only at Montecasino, Johannesburg.

Travel packages for rangers outside South Africa are available, with registration, four nights’ accommodation, all catering and airport shuttle included. Delegates need to present themselves at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg on August 20 to depart for the congress. They will then return to Johannesburg on August 24 at 17h00.

Funding and sponsorship can help to minimise costs to delegates, which will include accommodation, subsistence and transport. Local, national and international support will help with the success of the congress. Governmental conservation management authorities, organisations employing rangers and NGOs who support rangers are encouraged to support the congress by funding participation. Selected travel grants are available but limited in number.

To register and for more information, contact GRAA’s Louise De Bruin on info@gameranger.co.za.