Amarula trains new nature guides
Opening the tourguide field to a wider discipline and more jobseekers, Amarula, the famous Marula liquer, took a handful of Namibians on a training course to obtain a formal qualification as tourguides with a focus on ecotourism. This training was sponsored by the Amarula Conservation Trust, the corporate social investment vehicle of Amarula, the drink. The Trust funded 16 enthusiastic wildlife and outdoor lovers from communities in Namibia and Botswana, providing an opportunity to pursue the career of their dreams.
Lodges and camps in Botswana and Namibia set the scene for the EcoTraining 33-day Nature Guide Course, perfect for the start of a career in the eco-tourism industry. Through this programme, the Trust strives to showcase its care for nature and members of local communities by providing training to enter tourism as a source of employment. “Knowledgeable, skill competent and ethical guides play an important role in the foreign tourist experience – we simply wish to up-skill, give back and create excellent memorable experiences” said Philip Basson of the Amarula Conservation Trust. The selected students from the local communities as well as from various lodges in Namibia and Botswana were those who were employed as waiters, workshop assistants, security guards and bartenders at these establishments. According to Clinton Phillips of EcoTraining, “The criteria for the delegates were simple – they needed to be linked to potential employment, demonstrate a passion for wildlife, a willingness to improve their own education and an ability to give back to their communities. The training was done at the EcoTraining camp in the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana, at Erindi and at Wilderness Safari’s Damaraland Adventure Camp. The EcoTraining Nature Guide Level 2 course included lessons on botany, ecology, geology, climate, astronomy, mammals, birds, guiding principles, 4×4 vehicles, game driving, laws and regulations of Botswana and Namibia pertaining to parks and reserves as well as tracking, conservation and habitat management. Okwa Sarefo, the Safari Guide instructor said “the passion of these learners for wildlife and their commitment to the course were amazing. They would stay up late into the night, talking about what they had learned that day. They enjoyed learning about the ecological functioning of nature and how each organism contributes to the ecosystem. They were one of the best group of students we have ever had.” “The programme started in Botswana a few years ago and since then reached out into South Africa and Namibia. When these students return to their establishments they will be employed as field guides, opening up new job opportunities for those who fill their vacancies and further developing local employment,” said Adéle Ankiewicz, Amarula global marketing manager and spokesperson for the Trust. Intended to advance eco-sustainability and provide critical employment skills, the course is aligned to the new National Guide Qualifications of Botswana and Namibia and is accredited under the Botswana and Namibian Qualifications Authority.