Dr Ian Player passed away peacefully on Sunday, 30 November 2014. He leaves behind a conservation legacy that will most likely never be surpassed. Wilderness, and its deeper meaning, was synonymous with Ian and his ability to use the wilderness as a teaching tool, enabling him to touch and change numerous lives young and old, many of whom became ambassadors for wilderness areas the world over.
The close relationship he had with Maqubu Mtombela his close companion in Zululand was an inspiration to many young rangers growing up in South Africa, who emulated his dedication and passion for conservation. Dr Ian McCallum, one of the Cape Leopard Trust trustees, was a long-standing friend of Dr Player. Between them, they understood the important role wilderness plays in the nurturing of the human spirit.
As a patron of the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), Dr Ian Player always recognised the crucial role that game rangers play in conservation and recognised the so called thin green line. The “Thin Green Line Foundation” used Ian Player to hand over its first cheque to the family of a ranger who had died in the line of duty. This was one of the field rangers who had worked with me in the Kruger National Park and his family received the money in an official handover at the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, Head Office of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), south of Dr Ian and Anne Player’s home in theKarkloof.
The Cape Leopard Trust salutes Dr Ian Player for his immense and unwavering contribution to conservation throughout his life. It should be a sober reminder for us all that wilderness is not something that can be created, we only have what we have now, and once it is gone it will be gone forever.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Ian’s wife, Anne, his family and friends, during this time of bereavement. We celebrate his life as a true visionary. Future generations will long remember him for his wilderness legacy. Hamba Gahle!
Written by Bryan Havemann - Programme Manager