Skills Development Programme

The Skills Development Programme is all about nurturing and upskilling people who are involved in the protection and conservation of our biodiversity – our current focus is on catalysing law enforcement officials and the judiciary to do their work more effectively. We also develop training programmes that meet the skills needs of the biodiversity sector, including nature conservation practitioners and students as well as the public. We ensure that the EWT retains its accreditation status as a registered training service provider and support the training initiatives of other programmes, as well as providing them with legal advice over wildlife-related issues.

Faced with the ongoing scourge of wildlife trafficking we continue to direct our attention towards the law enforcement sector to ensure that justice is served. Not only is the poaching of rhinos and elephants a grave concern, but many other wildlife species are being harvested illegally. In response we have implemented two key enforcement support training programmes targeting over 450 officials representing the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), provincial conservation agencies, and the State Security Agency. These training programmes, in addition to rhinos and elephants, target other wildlife species being trafficked including our endemic Encephalartos cycad species, some of which are already extinct in the wild.

We have ensured that our Wildlife Trade Enforcement Training Programme retains its accreditation under the umbrella of the EWT, as a registered training service provider with the Culture Art Tourism Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA), the national nature conservation sector education training authority. The Skills Development Programme also sits on the Joint Working Committee of CATHSSETA to provide expertise on the Sector Skills Plan for the conservation sector.

We have embarked on an ambitious partnership with the US Department of State: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), working in close collaboration with the African Wildlife Foundation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare and in alignment with the Department of Environmental Affair’s training priorities. The EWT’s mandate is to develop and deliver a new suite of wildlife trade enforcement training and information awareness raising projects in South Africa and its neighbours. These include regional prosecutor and magistrate awareness raising campaigns to realise the scope of the issues and their powers to address them.

The Skills Development Programme will continue along two main thrusts for the immediate future. First, to support the skills and knowledge needed within the law enforcement sector, though creative delivery techniques and strategic partnerships, in order tackle illegal wildlife trade. Second, to create enabling conditions for the uptake of the Sector Skills Plan.

The South African Cycad Species Protection Project has been implemented in six provinces so far, delivering the necessary skills and knowledge required by mixed enforcement agencies to curb the illegal trade of our cycads. Around 150 mixed law enforcement officials have already undergone this training. Cycad poster

Cycad website :

Wildlife Trade 101
The SDU has commenced the delivery of short wildlife trade awareness programmes at Lanseria International Airport aimed at airport staff . It is envisaged that through the training staff will become more vigilant around the illegal trade of wildlife specimens and notify relevant authorities when detecting wildlife specimens.


Ashleigh Dore
Programme Manager