‘He raged, he gave a damn’

2015-01-15 00:00

IAN Player was loyal, courageous, a leader, and fondly remembered as “Madola” for his deep connection with the earth.

Over 800 people gathered in Hilton College’s hall to honour Player’s legacy and his dedication to conservation at his memorial service yesterday afternoon.

South African dignitaries, tribal chiefs, international delegates and friends from all over the world came to pay tribute to a man they say made huge strides in conserving nature and the wilderness in Africa and overseas.

One by one, good friends and work colleagues made their way to the stage to reflect on Player’s life and the work he had done.

Wilderness Foundation South Africa deputy chairperson Todani Moyo introduced the speakers and welcomed all warmly in remembering Player.

National Environmental Affairs ­Minister Edna Molewa delivered a speech on behalf of the president and said Player would always be remembered and was a conservation legend.

“His achievements speak volumes. He was a hero to many and changed lives,” she said on behalf of Zuma.

“His death is a loss to the nation, the environment and natural conservancy. We will miss him greatly.”

Molewa said Zuma was on board with the fight against rhino poaching and Player’s legacy would be continued.

Psychiatrist, wilderness guide and Player’s friend Ian McCullum spoke of Player’s many achievements such as conducting the first aerial count of the last remaining white rhino, and as the founder of seven organisations.

“He was driven and tireless in his cause,” said McCallum.

“He was a loyal man, and was like a dog with a bone; he would not let go if he believed in something.”

“He raged, he gave a damn and he never apologised for his emotional stand on environmental issues.

“Farewell Madola, you will be missed. Your legacy is in good hands.”

Player’s friend of 48 years and former deputy director for the Natal Parks Board David Cook said Player was a man people would come to for advice no matter where in the world they were.

Cook said Player’s widow, Ann, who was married to him for 57 years, was Player’s unsung hero and often the backbone of the family through trying times.

Wilderness Foundation executive director and Player’s friend Andrew Muir said he would continue Player’s legacy proudly and continue with the work he had dedicated his life to.

“It is time to move out of the shadows and do something; it is our turn,” he said.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Saving rhino in his name

National Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the department would continue its work to save rhinos in Player’s name.

“We have already translocated between 30-40 rhinos from the danger zone and darted and DNAed them,” she said.

“We have moved them to a space that will promote breeding and some have been moved to Botswana. We have been working with Rhinos Without Borders.

“We are doing all of this in Ian Player’s name,” she said.

Molewa said the department was testing the waters with donating rhinos for communities to look after and two had already been donated to the Mdluli community.

“A living rhino is more valuable than a dead rhino,” she said.

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