Dr. Ian Player is undoubtedly South Africa’s doyen of conservation. His love of and his unswerving loyalty to wilderness and its importance to the earth and to the human spirit is legendary as are his initiative in saving the white Rhino, starting the concept of walking trails resulting in the Wilderness Leadership School and the Wilderness Foundation, the World Wilderness Congresses – of which there have now been 7 over a period of 25 years – and, most important of all, inspiring tens of thousands of people by instilling in them respect, wonder, and an awe for nature.
Anyone who has heard Dr. Player speak, let alone have the privilege of having been on trail with him, will know the power and the depth of truth and conviction that he emanates. To those of us who fought for St. Lucia under his leadership, he gave courage and strength to take on enormous odds. Dr. Player has not only been lauded in his own country but is world-renowned, having created an international wilderness movement.
Working with associates in other countries he founded the Wilderness Trust in the UK and the WILD Foundation in the United States. The brother of Gary, as he likes to call himself, started the Duzi Canoe Race too and has always championed determination to win. His books, Men Rivers and Canoes, The White Rhino Saga and Zulu Wilderness, Shadow and Soul tell much of the story of South African Conservation. The first two, sadly, out of print and hard to come by, whilst the third celebrates his relationship with his Zulu mentor Magqubu Ntombela
When asked whether he would Patron an ‘Association of Volunteer Pilots’ flying for the environment (before The Bateleurs were even named) and whether he thought it would work, his answer was immediate “I would be delighted – go for it”. We are indeed honoured.