Park Manager

Park managers are responsible for ensuring that land and all its natural resources under their protection, are maintained in good condition, as well as conserved for maximum biodiversity.

They need to apply the Protected Areas Act to maintain biodiversity for the public to enjoy, and enable researchers to study nature in a relatively undeveloped state. They also manage protected areas as resources to generate income from eco-tourism, for the benefit of neighbouring communities, as well as to serve as educational and job creation sites. To fulfil these functions, the park manager needs to be knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.

Park managers also need ‘people skills’ as they manage teams of staff, and communicate with a wide range of stakeholders such as neighbouring farmers, or poor communities situated near the park who could be affected by wild animals that escape from the park, or those people who may want to collect firewood or thatching grass from within the park. Similar skills are needed by the game farm manager, who might be running an eco-lodge, as well as hunting concessions, and might need to manage wildlife in such a way that it can be sold sustainably to generate additional income. They must be knowledgeable on a wide range of relevant subjects, such as biodiversity, ecosystems, veld management, burning and grazing regimes and wildlife diseases, as well as the policies and legislation that are applicable.

Park managers work in natural environments most of the time, but also carry out administrative tasks and seminars indoors.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

• National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
• National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

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: N.Dip. in  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.

For those interested in conducting nature conservation walks, a course is offered by the field Guides Association of South Africa

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.

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

Many park managers have completed MBA courses at South African or international universities.

Possible Career Paths

A diploma in nature conservation or a BSc in the natural sciences would be a good start, but must be followed up by practical experience before a person can take sole responsibility for managing a protected area. Often further study, such as an Honours, MSc. or MBA in business studies is also required, particularly to manage a large area or organisation.


They may work for SANParks, provincial conservation agencies, or municipal authorities who run large or small nature reserves

• National Parks Board
• private game farms
• private game reserves
• government departments
• provincial conservation organisations
• large mining, chemical and industrial companies

A nature conservator or park ranger can work as a consultant in the private sector performing environmental impact studies.

Further Information

Wildlife and Environment Society of SA
P O Box 394
Howick, 3290
Tel: (033) 330-3931 Fax: (033) 330-4576
E-mail :

The National Parks Board
P O Box 787
Pretoria, 0001
643 Leyds Street
Tel: (012) 428-9111 Fax: (012) 426-5500

South African National Parks - SANParks
P O Box 787
Pretoria, 0001
643 Leyds Street
Tel: (012) 428-9111 Fax: (012) 426-5500

Field Guides Association of South Africa
P O Box 4432
Cresta, 2118
343 Surrey Avenue
3rd Floor Petrob House
Tel: (011) 886-8245 Fax: (011) 886-8084
E-mail :

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations