“Most people in our industry will tell you – this is a job you do for love! You get to meet the most incredible people doing good in conservation…”-Candice Pretorius co-founder of Ulovane Environmental Training
As individuals text the latest updates on their Smartphone or coordinate their next event on some social media platform or another, the world spins around on its axis while time ticks away. A population enveloped in technology is looking past the fundamentals of the planet allowing it to take a backseat in terms of priority.
With unemployment and the global economy in such a panic mode, the biggest platform that is being least recognised as a new employment market is a natural, tangible and totally unutilised one…and it is definitely not digital!
Welcome to the planet Earth, the next generation of the world’s economy.
Many lifetimes ago economies where spawned with the discovery of natural resources. Now its time to use this platform that is in dire need of attention to possibly revitalise the planets' financial and employment status. Though looking after crocodiles, tracking killer whales or protecting endangered plant species may not be as fun as checking out the latest Fail Video compilation on Youtube, the planet with a little creativity, can become the next biggest hype...possibly bigger than social media!
One can blame the "tree-huggers" for making the environment “unsexy”. Lucky for us, adventurers like Bear Grylls and co. are striving to make the planet a little more attractive and if an "app" can generate hype with a theme about a set of angry birds, surely a real life mammal can do the same! A career in the environment, is no easy task and there isn’t much scope for wearing a suit. Getting your hands dirty and putting the planet ahead of oneself is also not the easiest thing to do. Imagine if you put the same effort as you do in your normal "urban" career as you would into an environmental one, surely the planet would tick for a lot longer.
This thinking is not a new phase either, as was illustrated in 2005 when a couple in South Africa founded a setup called Ulovane Environmental Training in the Eastern Cape of the country. Located in a malaria-free zone its close proximity to the ocean makes it a global resourceful landmark to educate individuals in the environment.
“We chose the Eastern Cape to start up our training facility as we believed it is a hidden gem and definitely one of the most amazing beautiful places in South Africa.” says Candice Pretorius who founded the setup with her husband Schalk.
With a focus on the eco-tourism industry and providing an awareness to the natural processes of the planet, Candice explains that there is more to the environmental industry than just game drives and sight seeing trips for tourists, “We expect our students to know quite a bit on every subject we cover in our training. For example Grasses and Trees, individuals would need to study at least 20 trees and grasses in the area and know their Latin names, medicinal uses, which animals graze on them, which do not and why etc. We have had students that have in the past read for environmental, veterinarian and psychology degrees and said they have never had to work as hard as they have before than on our courses.”
There is a need to bring talented individuals to the environmental industry and a bigger focus on making sure individuals can achieve high standards of involvement through better education. The relevance of the environmental industry is higher now more than ever with individuals looking to broadening their career scope outside of the LAD system, (Lawyer, Accountant, Doctor). Waking up to the roar of a lion ahead of the beastly rumbles of a city’s morning traffic is a lot more tempting though definitely spine-chilling for the faint-hearted.
Candice furthers that the industry itself has seen some tough times with the global financial crisis, “The economic down turn had played a huge roll in people not being able to afford courses meaning (in terms of eco-tourism) that there is a shortage of qualified and good quality guides.”
The challenges of financing a study option even one which is conducted in a free and open platform is still an ongoing issue for students and learners. However a mindset of not discriminating about the field of education one is entering is the way forward.
“Most people in our industry will tell you – this is a job you do for love! You get to meet the most incredible people doing good in conservation on different reserves. You get to wake up in the bush every day and do what you love. What more could you ask for?”
It’s about time we took notice of the planet and started to explore the environment for what it really is, a massive platform that is very real and fragile. Maybe the next time you are sitting in your office cubicle, or desk or surfing the internet on whatever new device that has been hyped up into the needs of the many, perhaps think about a career change for the better or dare we say it, the wilder!!
The World Wildlife Fund.
MarineBio breakdown of the marine biology industry.
African Conservation Foundation, really awesome!
Blue Ventures, very cool indeed!
Society for Conservation Biology.
Smithsonian National Zoological Park’s breakdown of Wildlife Careers, a must read!
Ulovane Environmental Training
The Bear Grylls official website!