Colleagues pay tribute to ‘passionate leader’

2009-06-25 00:00

TRIBUTES have been pouring in at the news that the former chief executive officer of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) Khulani Mkhize has died.

Mkhize (49) died on Tuesday night, apparently from complications of diabetes. He was still working in an unspecified position at EKZNW.

Dr Andrew Ewing, former chairman of the Wildlands Conservation Trust and EKZNW, said Mkhize’s death was a great loss to conservation. “He was a fine man and a good leader who dedicated his life to nature conservation.”

Ewing said Mkhize was also a very charitable man who did a lot of community work with parentless children through the Trees for Fees project, through which children planted trees for their school fees.

“Above all, I will miss his work ethic and I will miss his friendship,” said Ewing.

Dr Andrew Venter, CEO of the Wildlands Conservation Trust, echoed Ewing’s words, saying Mkhize was a leader with a passion for the environment.

“Mkhize was instrumental in the establishment of the Wildlands Conservation Trust. He was a passionate conservationist who cared deeply for the province’s biodiversity and dedicated his life to conserving it.”

Mkhize was demoted from his position as CEO after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of driving and crashing a car hired by the KZN Environment Department while under the influence of alcohol.

Before his tenure at Ezemvelo, Mkhize had worked in various nature conservation organisations, like the KwaZulu Bureau for Natural Resources, which later became the Kwa-Zulu Directorate of Nature Conservation. He was part of the negotiations leading to the amalgamation in 1998 of the then Natal Parks Board and the KwaZulu Directorate of Nature Conservation, which resulted in the creation of EKZNW.

Dr Bandile Mkhize, the CEO of EKZNW, said, “Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has indeed lost one of the black pioneers of nature conservation in KZN. It is very sad and sudden that our colleague has passed on and we express our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

He credited him with laying the foundation for the organisation to become a leader in biodiversity conservation, ecotourism and partnerships.

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