Anton Lategan, co-owner and director of EcoTraining since 1997, built the company up to what it is today with the support of Lex Hes, his partner from 1997 to 2014. Lategan now enters the 23rd year of EcoTraining’s existence flanked by two new directors, both long-time peers and loyal friends who share his conservation ethos and mission: Alex van den Heever and Mark Hutchinson.
“EcoTraining has grown and expanded considerably over the years, now operating in 6 countries with four permanent camps and two temporary camps, as well as growing our lodge onsite training across Africa,” says Lategan. “EcoTraining is determined to reach people across the world, to instil in their hearts and minds a love for, and appreciation of, nature. There is no doubt that Alex and Mark will add much strategic value to us in this regard.”
Van den Heever was one of EcoTraining’s first-ever students in 1994. He has since been linked to EcoTraining for several years, heading up EcoTraining’s animal tracks and tracking courses. He worked as the environmental manager at the world-famous Londolozi for 13 years, represented its marketing team and conducted specialised safaris. He is also a founder member of Tracker Academy, an NGO dedicated to educating and empowering local tracker graduates with the skills necessary to work in animal monitoring, wildlife protection and ecotourism sectors of the conservation industry.
Alex has been immersed in the African wilderness and is thoroughly knowledgeable in disciplines ranging from tracking and guiding to marketing. He is a strong advocate for the burgeoning economy of wildlife in South Africa, and its positive impact on rural communities. “I have always felt strongly about intercultural relationships; ultimately wildlife conservation is about people,” says van den Heever. “With his humanitarian qualities, Alex will be adding significant value to the team,” says Lategan.
Australian-born Hutchinson (aka “Hutch”) has spent his entire life surrounded by the bush. A passionate advocate for the wilderness, he 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.
Hutchinson also attended an EcoTraining course in 2004, when he met Lategan. The two connected instantly as friends and conservationists, knowing they would one-day work together in the environmental field. Over a decade later, Hutch now formerly joins Anton and Alex at the helm of EcoTraining. Hutch inspired the team during their team gathering in May saying. “If you can take EcoTraining’s experience and knowledge from the course you attended, live those principles and ethos in your everyday life, it will be the healthiest thing you can do for your mind and body, as well as the environment you live in. It is the good sustainable stuff!” Hutch has the vision to create a conservation army, a green army consisting of millions of wilderness guardians. A vision that EcoTraining is ready for.
Lategan continues, “Van den Heever and Hutchinson each bring considerable conservation experience and entrepreneurial acumen to EcoTraining, which augurs well for the company’s future. By remaining absolutely true to our conservation roots as we sustainably grow and build the EcoTraining business across Africa, will we fulfil our ambition of becoming a global leader in conservation training? “