Conservation Training Gets A Massive Cash Injection Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) & The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) Five years and over R6.7-million rand later, the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) once again demonstrated its commitment to conservation at its annual African Wildlife Heritage Gala Dinner hosted at the Sandton Sun in Johannesburg. This year was no exception with a whopping R1.5-million raised on the night. Launched in 2007 with the aim of supporting worthy conservation causes, this fundraising initiative has continued to grow from strength to strength. “At the outset, the hunting fraternity and various conservation organizations agreed that the biggest contribution PHASA could make to conservation was to ensure that wildlife managers are adequately trained. Through PHASA’s Conservation and Empowerment Fund, donors continue to support this annual event which enables people already employed in the field of conservation to be trained at the Southern African Wildlife College,” said Adri Kitshoff, CEO of PHASA. It was smiles all round when Theresa Sowry, CEO of the Southern African Wildlife College received a cheque for over R1.5-million raised at the at the annual African Wildlife Heritage Gala Dinner hosted by PHASA at the Sandton Sun in Johannesburg. Pictured from left are: Hermann Meyeridricks, Chairman. PHASA Conservation and Empowerment Fund, Theresa Sowry, Southern African Wildlife College, Adri Kitshoff, PHASA CEO and Eduard Katzke, PHASA President. “To date 676 wildlife rangers, field guides and protected area managers from across the SADC region have benefitted from the funds raised at this event,” said Theresa Sowry, CEO of the Wildlife College. “As a non-profit training institution, which does not receive a government subsidy, the funding received from the PHASA Conservation and Empowerment Fund enables us to empower and uplift individuals and communities, primarily through training and skills development programmes.” Endorsed by leading stakeholders and organizations in the African wildlife conservation field, the funds are raised by way of auctioning exclusive donations of hunting and accommodation packages, luxury weekend retreats, hunting equipment and wildlife art donated by various conservation organizations, outfitters and businesses. The Fund is also strengthened by voluntary donations from foreign hunters whilst hunting with PHASA members. Adding to the success of the event is the fact that it has over the years been supported by numerous dignitaries which this year included Nandi Nyameka Khoza, Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development MEC, Dr Bartolomeu Soto, Ministry of Tourism in Mozambique, Dr David Mabunda, CEO of South African National Parks, and Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Pictured at the annual African Wildlife Heritage Gala Dinner hosted by PHASA at the Sandton Sun in Johannesburg are from left: Adri Kitshoff, CEO of PHASA; Victor Khoza; Nandi Nyameka Khoza, Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development MEC; and Eduard Katzke, President of PHASA. In addressing these and other guests, Hermann Meyeridricks, Chairman of the PHASA Conservation and Empowerment Fund said that hunting plays a significant role in the South African economy. “It brings in a substantial amount of foreign expenditure every year, resulting in job creation and economic stimulation, particularly in rural areas. In addition, and as a result of the growth in the industry, game numbers and land under conservation has increased exponentially.” Other projects supported by the Fund since 2003, include the training of black professional hunters, the development and production of educational media, a cheetah conservation project and a Cape Mountain Zebra research project, as well as contributions to Conservation Force, the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. During 2010, the Fund also donated R220,000 towards the Wildlands Conservation Trust and Private Rhino Owners’ Association’s rhino anti-poaching projects, with another R150,000 handed over to Dr Mabunda, CEO of South African National Parks on 15 April 2011 towards thei South African National Parks anti-poaching projects.