Private Game Reserve appoints South Africa’s first female tracker! Justa Frans 1

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.


The Karoo, South Africa – The Award-winning Game Reserve is located on 70,000 acres of wilderness in the Great Karoo, offering breathtaking views over the Plains of Camdeboo. Situated approximately 270km from Port Elizabeth and 53km from the nearest town of Graaff Reinet, Samara offers easy access to visitors on excellent roads.

Samara Private Game Reserve is a passionate conservation undertaking – the leader in its area and a catalyst for change in the Great Karoo region of South Africa. The abundant land – which has been allowed to rest over 20 years – preserves a complex and diverse ecosystem. Four vegetation biomes provide habitat for over 60 mammal species, including lion, elephant, cheetah, black and white rhino, buffalo, Cape mountain zebra, giraffe, eland, gemsbok and aardvark to name but a few. Samara forms part of a greater vision – to create South Africa’s third largest protected area in a global biodiversity hotspot. The driving force behind this vision is the desire to preserve this irreplaceable part of South Africa’s natural heritage.

Justa Frans’ appointment comes after her graduation from the S.A.C.T Tracker Academy, which is located at Samara, in 2018. Her Level 3 tracking qualification (an achievement of over 90%) is a useful supplement to the training she completed in nature and culture site guiding after matriculating in 2015.

Private Game Reserve appoints South Africa’s first female tracker! Justa Frans 1

These skills will serve Justa well as she prepares for her position as a tracker intern at Samara; a post which the Tracker Academy’s Alex van de Heever is hopeful will evolve into permanent employment.
Van den Heever informs that 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, with a Level 2 (above 80%) qualification, 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 Van den Heever informing that there are two more females enrolled at the Tracker Academy hoping to graduate in 2019.

The Tracker Academy is but one example of Samara’s efforts to uplift the local community. A division of the SA College for Tourism, the academy was established in 2010 by Gaynor Rupert and aims to employ previously disadvantaged individuals by equipping them with rare tracking skills. Around 94% of the academy’s graduates have found permanent employment in their field.

“We’re pleased and proud to have Justa joining us at Samara Private Game Reserve,” comments Samara co-founder Sarah Tompkins.

As a woman in conservation, Sarah 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!”

For more information, visit

Sources: Samara 
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