Wilderness Foundation (Africa)

The Wilderness Foundation (Africa) is WILD’s sister organization in South Africa. Founded by Dr Ian Player in 1972, the Wilderness Foundation (Africa) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) working in Southern Africa to protect and sustain wilderness, wildlife and wildlands, to provide environmental education, experience and training to all contemporary and indigenous communities, and to further human understanding and cooperation for the conservation of wild habitats. The Wilderness Leadership School, the first organization of The Wilderness Network and founded by Ian Player in 1960, operates within the Wilderness Foundation. The WLS pioneered the concept of wilderness walking trails in Africa, and has taken over 40,000 people in small groups for 5 day treks in the African wilderness…it is one of Africa’s iconic nature experiences.

The Wilderness Foundation (Africa) accomplishes its mission through public awareness programs, by promoting wilderness as a resource for all South Africans, by monitoring wilderness and planning for new wilderness designations in South Africa, by assisting with the management of existing wilderness areas under private and public ownership, and by advocating for enlightened policy and research that sustains wilderness and wildlands. The Wilderness Foundation (Africa) works with a wide range of volunteers and professionals from all sectors – the public, politics, business, academia, and the arts – to coordinate and concentrate our energies on key, strategic struggles to save wilderness values for the well-being of all people now and in the future.

The Wilderness Foundation (Africa) helped save the inestimable Lake St Lucia from mining, and also assisted efforts that made the St Lucia area South Africa’s first World Heritage Area. It established Africa’s first wilderness designation on private land, and has been a pioneer in South Africa using wilderness as a positive force for social change by taking into the wilderness disadvantaged youths, as well as business, political and community leaders.

Visit the Wilderness Foundation’s website >>>

In a new collaborative partnership, The Wilderness Foundation is working to meet the challenges of global climate change. The Climate Action Partnership, composed of six of South Africa’s largest conservation organizations, aims to mitigate climate change and adapt South Africa to its effects. Read more about this important partnership >

Key Profiles

Andrew Muir (Executive Director), during twenty years of concentrated work, has been actively linking environmental and social solutions at critical junctures in South Africa’s history. Concentrating on wild habitats, he has understood natural areas as a context for both social and environmental reform. Programmes that he initiated since 1987 have impacted on ninety-five thousand South Africans, dominated by those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. As an environmental activist and leader who targets community influencers – youth leaders; politicians and opinion leaders – Andrew develops opportunities for extending socio-political perceptions (among youth during apartheid era), reforming environmental legislation (opinion leader trails at birth of democratic governance), developing environmental awareness among emerging young black leaders (Imbewu trails led by previously unrecognized role models) and for activating a future for orphans of the Aids crisis (Umzi Wethu an environmentally focused skills development for job placement initiative).

In 2000, Andrew joined the Wilderness Foundation as the Executive Director in South Africa. He has a Masters Degree in Environment and Development from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg and serves on a number of non-profit and conservation Boards. In addition he is a Co-Founder and Trustee of Usiko Rites of Passage, Chairman of the Wilderness Leadership School Trust, Board Member of the WILD Foundation (USA), Associate of the Gaia Foundation (UK), Director of the Board of Open Africa Initiative and Member and Deputy Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Provincial Parks Board.

Ian's tribute to Magqubu Ntombela, and the story of their friendship.

Ian Player, Founder is a ‘man of many reasons’ for wilderness: African game ranger, international diplomat, writer, lecturer, wilderness guide, and a man of culture, the arts and psychology. Ian brings all of these parts of himself to bear on a single mission: to assure that wilderness remains a constant reality, and a source of spiritual inspiration, prosperity and fundamental physical life on planet Earth. Is there anything left to be said?

His friend, mentor, father-and- brother figure for forty years was Qumbu Magqubu Ntombela, the Zulu chief and game guard whose knowledge, dignity and humanity helped Ian found The Wilderness Leadership School, The WILD Foundation, World Wilderness Congress, Wilderness Foundation (South Africa), Wilderness Trust (UK), and more. Together, they inspired countless individuals, and walked more kilometers in the wilderness than the rest of us can even imagine. Ian continues the work today.

The Wilderness Foundation’s Philosophy

The Wilderness Foundation has a basic belief that wilderness is the foundation upon which our society exists. We create models for the preservation of biodiversity and wilderness. We focus on working with government, civil society and the private sector, The Wilderness Foundation serves to influence people’s perception of wilderness and to maximise the benefits all communities and wildlife gain from its preservation.

Wild areas relate to our people’s sense of humanity – and its loss in overcrowded living spaces, to our knowing of the natural web of life – or our desensitisation to it, and to our sense of place in the world beyond degraded townships and urban areas.

Wilderness relates to the loss or sustainability of our water, to the diversity or scarcity of our food, to the ways we are creative and to our sustenance in practical and spiritual life. Wilderness is not a romantic concept. We simply require leadership beyond intellectual, economic or political detail, to nourish environments for our individual and collective selves, and other living things.

In the 21st Century, we are faced with the rapid disappearance of much that is wild and natural. Africa is still custodian to wildlands and cultures, which have a deep concern for nature, but much of it is fractured…