Anton grew up in a small farming town surrounded by mountains, natural forests and majestic scenery. As a child, he enjoyed camping in Chobe in Botswana and taking trips into the bush around him at home with his Venda mentor, who taught him about berries, traps and bugs. He had an adventurous childhood, so it is no wonder that this exposure to nature influenced his future direction in life.
Anton matriculated from Pretoria Boys’ High School and signed up for a law degree. He then followed his heart to Sabi Sabi to live out his passion, which was being out in the bush and showing visitors all the splendours of the natural world.
In 1997 Anton joined EcoTraining as an instructor. The company had been started in 1993 by a group of field guides from Londolozi and Sabi Sabi. EcoTraining was visionary in its thinking, and had started running the first structured field guide training course in South Africa. Anton saw great potential, and knew he wanted to work in and protect the wilderness.
Anton has travelled, personally and professionally, to many corners of the world.
Anton’s focus and mission is to reach people. The endless horror of humans’ destruction of natural habitats and poaching of wildlife angers him as much as it spurs him on. Anton believes that the guiding principles of ecology are universal: that humans need to be reminded that we are not separate from nature, and that capitalism needs to be checked with a strong environmental consciousness.
Mark (aka “Hutch”) has spent his entire life surrounded by the bush. As a passionate advocate for the wilderness, Mark has always used his bountiful entrepreneurial spirit and endless sense of adventure to help educate about the wild and ensure that our planet is protected for future generations.
After spending time as a jackaroo in Northern Australia and travelling the length of Africa by car, Mark established Untamed, a global adventure company focused on guiding travellers into Mother Nature’s last vestiges. During this period, he met Anton Lategan of EcoTraining, and partnered with EcoTraining to deliver training courses to indigenous guides and eco-travellers in outback Australia.
The training arm of Mark’s business evolved to become Avana, a highly successful registered training organisation in Australia, employing over 120 people. In 2013, the Avana business became part of the consortium of training organisations called Vocation, and listed on the Australian stock exchange. Mark was as the CEO of Vocation until 2015, when he left to establish Wild Ark, a business focused on empowering a passion for conservation across the world through protecting biodiversities.
Mark has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney, an MBA from INSEAD Business School, France, and is currently completing a Masters of Conservation Biology degree at Macquarie University. When Mark isn’t in the bush or trekking to the far reaches of the world, he spends time on his surfboard or at his farm in New South Wales, Australia. His lifelong desire is to ensure that he leaves the world in a better natural state for his kids and future generations.
Alex van den Heever
Alex joined EcoTraining in March 2016 as one of three directors; a wonderful story since he was one of EcoTraining’s first-ever students in 1994.
Alex grew up on a cattle farm in the Western Cape, South Africa. After completing his studies in Marketing and Business Management, in 1995 he joined Londolozi, the world-renowned game reserve, as a game ranger.
During his 13 years at Londolozi, Alex worked as the environmental manager, presented for the marketing team and conducted specialised safaris.
Alex’s greatest fascination during his time in the bush was animal tracking. He dedicated much of his time to learning the ancient art of tracking, eventually qualifying as one of a handful of tracker assessors in 2004 – the youngest ever to achieve this feat.
During the past decade, Alex’s dedication to tracking has afforded him the opportunity to track jaguars in the Amazon jungle, bears in California, grizzlies and wolves in Montana, and the famous black-maned lions of the Kalahari.
In 2010, Alex became a founder member of the Tracker Academy, which is a training division of the SA College for Tourism based in Graaff-Reinet. The first school of its kind in Africa, the Academy trains learners in the fast-disappearing traditional art and indigenous knowledge of tracking animals in the wild, in a formal education and training environment.