Justa Frans has been appointed as South Africa's first female tracker. Pic: Supplied

Justa Frans has been appointed as South Africa's first female tracker, graduating from the S.A.C.T Tracker Academy, which is located at Samara, in 2018. 

Justa was one of two females who completed the Tracker Academy’s course in 2018. Her fellow female classmate, Kelathlilwe Malaki, also graduated in November and is now seeking employment as a tracker in her home country of Botswana. Justa and Kelathlilwe’s success appears to have inspired more women to complete the course, with two more females enrolled at the Tracker Academy hoping to graduate in 2019.

Known for its significant and ongoing contribution to conservation in South Africa, Samara Private Game Reserve is forwarding the advancement of women with the appointment of the first formally accredited female tracker in South Africa.

 A division of the SA College for Tourism, the academy was established in 2010 by Gaynor Rupert and aims to provide employment for previously disadvantaged individuals by equipping them with rare tracking skills. Around 94% of the academy’s graduates have found permanent employment in their field.

Samara co-founder Sarah Tompkins is passionate about empowering other females to play a part in this vital industry. Her commitment is evidenced not only by her own active involvement in the reserve and its activities, but also through her ongoing initiatives to train and upskill female staff members, who account for 70% of Samara’s total workforce. 

Her daughter, Isabelle, shares her mother’s enthusiasm for the industry and passion for female empowerment, and works alongside her to protect and nurture Samara’s populations.

Says Justa, “I am very grateful to the Tracker Academy and all its donors for this opportunity. I am super excited, and looking forward to making Samara and the Tracker Academy proud!”