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Celebrating 45 Years of Conservation

20 Sep 2016 0
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2016 has been a year of milestones for Wilderness Foundation Africa. It is the year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Umzi Wethu Academy, the 20th anniversary of Pride of Table Mountain and the year that we celebrate 45 years of Conservation.

Sharing in the celebration of these momentous milestones at a Gala Dinner on Tuesday, 13th September, were 72 partners, funders and friends of Wilderness Foundation Africa. Earlier in the day, VWSA had handed over six Amarok vehicles to be deployed in hotspots around the country as part of the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. 

 The Gala Dinner was an evening of celebration, with speeches delivered by Pierre Voges, CEO of the Mandela Bay Development Agency; by Mongameli Bobani, Deputy Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, by Ntobeko Ngcala, past student and current employee of WFA and the keynote address by Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa. Guests were served a four course meal which had been expertly prepared and served by Development Chef, Kevin Gouws and the new intake of chef students at the Youth Development Programme of WFA. 

A special note of thanks to the 3 main parters of the Gala Dinner, which included the Mandela Bay Development Agency, VWSA and Graham Beck Wine.

Below is an excerpt from the speech delivered by Dr Andrew Muir.

“Our story begins in the early 1960’s when game rangers Ian Player and Magqubu Ntombela founded the Wilderness Leadership School and the idea of walking trails into the wilds of Africa. They soon realized that giving people experiences of nature whilst important was not necessary protecting those few conservation areas from development and de-proclamation and what was needed was an advocacy based organization that could lobby and highlight the importance of conservation, working side by side with the School – and so in early 1970’s the Wilderness Foundation was created. 

Our achievements since the year 2 000 are numerous, and there are a few milestones worth noting.

  • We have helped to add over a million hectors to the formal conservation landscape; 
  • We have played a key lead role in helping to create two world heritage sites – the Baviaanskloof (EC) and the Okavango Delta (Botswana); 
  • Since 2011 we have raised and deployed over R50 Million in Rhino conservation and related awareness projects; 
  • We have enabled over 60 000 South Africans from previously disadvantaged communities to experience nature and wilderness often for the first time;
  • We have graduated over 300 students from our year long residential and vocational training academy (Umzi Wethu) and helped to place 90% of them in jobs in the eco tourism and conservation sector. 
  • We are proud to have found a new home for our Youth Development Programme, in the beautiful historic Tramways building.
  • We have always used nature as a positive force for social change by bringing disadvantaged youth, as well as political and community leaders on trails (of various lengths and duration) to experience wildlands and wildlife, rediscover cultural identity, and build self-esteem and leadership skills.

These have resulted in an understanding of the potential for personal growth and experiential education within wilderness. We have seen time and time again how people return from experiences in nature with not only something they need for inner growth, but also with a gift to give their community: the knowledge and respect for life and nature.We are living in a time in our history where our earth is in a state of flux and we are facing environmental challenges unparalleled in our time on this earth.

As we move forward into our next Chapter as the Wilderness Foundation Africa we are pleased to announce that we have created a new entity called Wilderness Foundation Global which is a coming together under a global platform of the various organisations that Dr Player founded in the USA, Africa, and Europe – in addition we are establishing new partners in South America and Asia. Wilderness Foundation Global, which we have registered in Cape Town , is the first global conservation organisation founded in and based out of Africa.

Our country is a place of dramatic contrasts. From my time with the Wilderness Foundation, we have experienced both the worst and the best of South Africa and have come to the conclusion that its worst – the poverty; inequality and tragic social divisions – could in part be healed and transformed by its best – the incredible wealth of natural splendour and human spirit.”

#WildernessFdnSA #45years #celebration #nature #conservation #YouthDevelopment #ForeverWildRhino 

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VWSA handed over six Amarok vehicles to support the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.

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The venue was expertly decorated to portray the theme of style and celebration, blended with nature.

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Guests were treated to a four course meal expertly created and served by Development Chef and students of the Green Leaf Kitchen.

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Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa, delivery his speech to the 70 guests.