WWF pays tribute to Player

2014-12-01 16:21
(Tangi Salaün via Twitter)

(Tangi Salaün via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on Monday paid tribute to nature conservationist Ian Player, who died at home in KwaZulu-Natal aged 87.

"In much the same way as a guide traces the spoor in the sand on a wilderness trail, Ian Player has shown us the path to follow. We salute the passing of a great South African and pledge to continue our work in his spirit," spokesperson Andrea Weiss said in a statement.

"He will be remembered for his dedication to protecting and nurturing a love for South Africa's rich natural resources, people and biodiversity."

The Wilderness Foundation said Player died at his home in the Karkloof Valley at the weekend after a short illness.

Weiss said Player was instrumental in exposing South Africans to the nature conservation.

"He believed that people needed to be wholly integrated into and involved in conservation efforts, an ideal that resonates with our commitment to building a future in which humans live in harmony with nature."

She said Player, together with others including former Natal Parks Board staff, was a driving force behind Operation Rhino in the 1960s, when the white rhino population was around 50 in the Imfolozi Nature Reserve.

"Through their pioneering efforts, rhino were translocated to start new breeding populations elsewhere, and it was Operation Rhino that seeded the healthy rhino population to be found today in the Kruger National Park, an area where they were then locally extinct."

These sentiments were echoed by AfriForum, who said Player helped save the rhino from extinction.

"Dr Player’s tremendous ‘Operation Rhino’ achievement in the 1960s managed to save the oldest land mammal, the white rhinoceros, from the brink of extinction," AfriForum head of environmental affairs Julius Kleynhans said in a statement.

Kleynhans described Player as "one of the greatest conservationists of all times.

Across the river

"His legacy will continue, because the battle against rhino poaching is far from over."

On Friday, rumours of Player's death arose after his brother and renowned golfer Gary Player tweeted: "My beloved brother Ian has cast his canoe onto the river of life that will shortly take him across to the other side. I will miss you. Love".

Project Rhino KZN spokesperson Sheelagh Antrobus said the tweet was "misinterpreted".

The Professional Hunters' Association of SA called Player "the grandfather of conservation in South Africa".

During his career, Player served on a number of parks boards, including SANParks.

He established a number of conservation organisations and wrote books, including one about his passion for canoeing, titled Men, Rivers, and Canoes and a biography titled Into the River of Life.

Player is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.

Read more on:    sanparks  |  ian player

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