The Vehicle That’s Helping Preserve Tracking in Southern Africa

In April 2021, Iconic Africa facilitated an immersive tracking getaway at Londolozi Game Reserve, South Africa, to raise money for the Tracker Academy – a non-profit organisation that trains disadvantaged rural men and women in traditional skills of wildlife tracking.
Hosting the event were Tracker Academy co-founders Renias Mhlongo and Alex van den Heever, and they facilitated an amazing and immersive few days in the African bush.

Alex and Renias telling stories around the fireside.

Present at the event was Tim Abbott, INEOS Automotive Head of Region, Southern Africa and Sub-Sahara, and what he saw and experienced there moved him so strongly that he decided to offer the full support of INEOS to the Tracker Academy for the next three years.

Below is part of the press release issued recently by INEOS, detailing the amazing partnership formed through that Iconic Africa Tracking event:

December 2021 – As it grows its presence in Southern Africa, ahead of the launch of its Grenadier 4X4 in 2022, INEOS Automotive is partnering with the SA College for Tourism’s Tracker Academy. The three-year partnership will see INEOS support vulnerable communities through a regional employment programme that aims to promote traditional approaches to wilderness conservation.

Tracker Academy Co-founder Alex van den Heever (middle) with Head Trainers Innocent Ngwenya (left, based at Londolozi Game Reserve) and Karel Benadie (right, based at Samara Game Reserve) and a Tracker Academy branded INEOS Grenadier

INEOS is the first automotive company to be actively involved in an initiative of this nature in the region. The overarching vision of the Tracker Academy is to restore indigenous tracking knowledge and skills in Africa and to continually improve the standards of training and assessment. It aims to prove that ancient tracking skills are relevant in modern conservation management efforts.

Tim Abbott, INEOS Automotive Head of Region, Southern Africa and Sub-Sahara, said: “The Tracker Academy offers us an ideal opportunity to support the reinvigoration of rural communities in South Africa through education and employment. It will allow us to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the wellbeing of local people, while safeguarding ancient techniques that have protected the environment for thousands of years. We hope that the Grenadier – a vehicle suited perfectly to the conditions of rural Africa – will also play an important role in protecting biodiversity in the region.”

Tim Abbott (centre) proudly assisting with the recent Tracker Academy awards ceremony in Graaf Reinet.
Tim Abbott (left) and John Holley, Iconic Africa Director.

INEOS Automotive will sponsor 30 student bursaries for the Tracker Academy’s one-year course structure from 2022 to 2024. The course will expose students to the diverse range of wildlife in the semi-desert and bushveld biomes. Sponsored tracking courses will only be offered to unemployed, previously disadvantaged men and women, up to retirement age.

“Since day one, our goal has been to empower tracker graduates to become ambassadors for the African wildlife conservation industry,” says Tracker Academy general manager, Alex van den Heever. “We are dedicated to bringing authenticity and accuracy to environmental education, wildlife protection, eco-tourism, monitoring, and research, and we are delighted to be partnering with INEOS Automotive to share knowledge and expertise for the benefit of social ecology and our communities.”

The INEOS Grenadier is already breaking new ground in the automotive space. Given that through this alignment with the Tracker Academy it is also firmly establishing itself in the social upliftment sector, it seems set to take the African market by storm, as well as ensuring a bright future for the ancient art of tracking for years to come.

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