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Here's how a career as a game ranger or park ranger provides more outdoor freedom

The role of conservation is to manage natural resources for the benefit of society

Image: 123RF/Peter Titmuss.

Park rangers perform a variety of tasks and functions depending on the needs of the area within which they find themselves.

Their roles may include capturing game for relocation, culling overpopulated game to reduce numbers, researching the movement of game, and environmental impact studies. One of their primary functions is law enforcement and in ensuring that the parks or wilderness areas are protected for the benefit of all.

They may also support research projects designed by scientists and are often also responsible for tourists, for instance, taking visitors on guided tours or presenting environmental education programmes. Some park rangers become experts in one or more specific areas of conservation and may conduct work which requires extensive planning, reading, fieldwork and data analysis.

Others may become more involved in developing publicity material and liaising with the public and the media. Depending on their kind of employment, the nature conservator may also be responsible for financial administration, management of personnel and labour relations.

Watch the video to learn more:

How to enter

Schooling & school subjects

Compulsory school subjects: None (for University BSc degree: Mathematics and Physical Science).

Recommended subjects: Life Sciences but each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to study

Degree: Special BSc or BTech courses in Ecology or Nature Conservation are offered at Wits, UFS, UKZN, US, UV, UNISA, UJ, UCT, NMMU, RU.Zoology and Botany are offered at all universities.

Diploma: CPUT, TUT

Post-graduate: BSc (Hons)(Environmental Management / Nature Conservation): UNISA, followed by MSc and PhD. BSc (Hons) with an ecological approach, preferably in some applied fields such as Mammalogy, Ornithology, Limnology or Ecobotany, depending upon the student’s specific interest, particularly suited for the person interested in research.

BVSc: Many veterinarians are active in conservation or wildlife management, for example, UP has a chart of wildlife diseases in its Faculty of Veterinary Science.

BTech Hons in Nature Conservation can be taken at NMMU, (George Campus), followed by MTech and DTech, which are research qualifications.

Diploma: N.Dip. in Environmental Health or Nature Conservation is offered at DUT, CPUT, TUT, usually involving 2 years theoretical study and 1 year in-service training at an approved game ranch or game reserve etc.

Specific courses are:

N.Dip. and BTech Nature Conservation: UNISAN.Dip. and BTech

Nature Conservation: NMMU, (George Campus)N.Dip.

Nature Conservation: (2 years theoretical study and 1 year practical work): CPUT For those interested in conducting nature conservation walks, a course is offered by the field Guides Association of South Africa


  • National Parks Board
  • Private game farms
  • Private game reserves
  • Government departments
  • Provincial conservation organisations
  • Large mining, chemical and industrial companies.

Getting started

  • Try to obtain vacation work at a wildlife centre or private game reserve
  • Make appointments to speak to a park ranger about this type of career

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