Celebrating 10 years of Tracker Academy

By Samara on December 10, 2019
Tracker Academy trains disadvantaged young people in the traditional skills of tracking, fostering their career development as passionate African naturalists. We recently celebrated the Academy's 10 year anniversary with the 2019 graduation of students at the SA College for Tourism Hotel School in Graaff-Reinet.

Founded at Samara in 2010 through the generosity of Mrs Gaynor Rupert, Tracker Academy operates as a training division of the South African College for Tourism, under the guidance of Alex van den Heever, and funded by the Peace Parks Foundation.

The one-year course trains underprivileged men and women in the traditional skills of tracking, enabling them to get jobs in ecotourism, conservation and anti-poaching.

Ten years on from inception, the Academy now trains 24 students per year across 3 campuses – at Samara, Londolozi and Tswalu. Today, many trackers receive job offers before the course has even ended, a testament to the value they bring to conservation and ecotourism. Their skills have been exported around the world – from habituating leopards in Rwanda to tracking jaguars in Brazil.

Samara is proud to have employed 7 Tracker Academy graduates so far, including the first accredited female tracker in South Africa, Justa Frans, and two graduates who have gone on to become guides, Benedict Phepheng and Xoli Tlou. On 15th November 2019 we celebrated the graduation of our latest recruit and a long-standing member of the Samara team, Elroy Pietersen. We look forward to supporting Tracker Academy for many decades to come.

Watch the video tribute


Samara Private Game Reserve is a luxury Big Five safari destination with a difference. Guests are invited behind the scenes of a passionate conservation journey to restore a unique South African wilderness. This genuine conservation participation, combined with heartfelt Karoo hospitality and breathtaking landscapes, offers a safari that feeds the soul.

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