The Assistant Conservation Officer at Kenilworth Race Course Conservation Area (KRCA), Fayruz Prince has recently enjoyed investing a significant amount of time this quarter to train the next generation of conservators. These include three learnership students who began their Nature Connect Greenskills Programme at KRCA in October this year, Expanded Public Work Programme staff, students completing their practical year for their diploma in Nature Conservation, and interns who have recently graduated, but are wishing to acquire practical experience. Some of these training interventions were supported by the Friends of KRCA group, and City of Cape Town People and Conservation Officers.

Training included learning more about Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, and focused on rare and endangered species of the Cape Flats, where loss is accelerated by the inevitable habitat fragmentation within an urban environment. They also worked on the Inaturalist app, which assists the user in species identification while in the field.

At the beginning of their nature conservation journey, these staff also learned about aquatic invasive alien plant species, where water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) was highlighted. They visited Rondevlei Nature Reserve and False Bay Nature Reserves’ Strandfontein Bird Sanctuary, identifying common bird species and learning about the basic bird group characteristics. Their final session talked about the importance of reptiles and amphibians in ecosystems, simultaneously familiarising the audience with safety in the field when encountering snakes (snakes being a part of daily life in the conservator’s duties).

Nature Connect believe that it is essential for staff to be competent in their workplace and able to deliver. Training is critical to ensuring staff feels valued and in turn, more confident to engage, apply their minds with critical thinking, and do a better job. This upward spiral grows self-esteem, develops communication skills, and builds relationships across the sector. 

It is a great pleasure to be part of Nature Connect, as it provides a gateway for youth to be more employable, thereby supporting their transition into the green economy.