Mourning the passing of conservation pioneer, Dr. Ian Player

I personally had the privilege of meeting Ian in South Africa while I was at university in 2006.  I had read his book for a course, Zululand Wilderness: Shadow and Soul, and it brought to light the realization of our soul’s connection to and need for wilderness; wild space.  I spoke to Ian about how his book resinated within me and the importance of the concepts in forming my own conservation work and budding career.  Little did I know that the Jungian concept of “synchronicity” would carve a path of unfolding events, deep relationships, and meaningful accomplishments.  I feel very blessed to have had your influence in my life. – Britt Hosmer Peterson, November 29, 2014
June 10, 2011: “Vance (Martin) also tells me of the work he’s doing with Britt concerning Ian McCallum’s project In the Tracks of Giants. She is a fine young woman and professional, and a great asset for conservation and a better world. It is great to have her as part of our team.” – Dr. Ian Player, Vice Chairman of the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation (Yellowwood Park, South Africa)

Magquba Ntombela and Dr. Ian Player.

December 1, 2014

Conservation pioneer and legend Dr. Ian Player passed away peacefully on 30 November 2014 after a short illness. The 87-year-old was at home surrounded by his family. ICCF is deeply saddened by his passing and recognizes his immense contribution to conservation, including his extraordinary role in saving the white rhino from extinction. Our thoughts are with the Player family at this time.

A tireless champion for the conservation of nature in Africa and around the world, Dr. Player was fully committed to his life’s calling. His legacy is profound, and he will be greatly missed.

“Our fight for wilderness closely resembles what Churchill had to encounter in his struggle to save the free world.”

Ian Player to David Barron
January 3, 2014

“Dr. Player was exactly my age (62) when I met him 25 years ago. I thought he was an old man. And I guess he was in many ways, from the wear & tear of many miles and many battles, and in enlightenment – a certain wisdom that comes with peace of mind from having “fought the good fight”; lived a full life – much of it in the wilderness that he loved so much; the love of a good women; and, the highest admiration of his friends and of his foes. Ian was my mentor, in conservation and in life. ICCF was born from collaboration with the leadership of the International Conservation Caucus which came about from life changing field missions which all started with Ian, and then Ian and me, guiding leaders into the wilds to witness challenges of wild animals and wild places. And like many campaigns that he started, the work continues thanks in no small part to his vision, his passion, his leadership and his tenacity.”

David H. Barron
ICCF Founder

“One of America’s greatest gifts to the world has been its conservation ethic, which has been articulated by great men like President Teddy Roosevelt.  A visit to Roosevelt Island on the Potomac and the slabs with quotations from this remarkable man clearly illustrate the depth of feeling that he had for the natural world.   His hunting visits to Africa with Frederick Courtney Selous brought a new dimension to his life, as well as Selous.  When Roosevelt was tired with his years of onerous responsibility and contemplated giving it all up, he was urged by Selous to continue because he still had so much to contribute. Other giants in the conservation field, like Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and Aldo Leopold, were instrumental in broadening the understanding of the conservation ethic. Aldo Leopold’s books on game management have enabled scientists and managers from all over the world to expand their knowledge, but it was John Muir who brought to the fore the need of a spiritual depth to underpin all conservation activities. His work in the spiritual realm, like Thoreau, was a continuation of the deep beliefs of the Native American people, which were also expressed in the modern world by Stewart Udall when he was Interior Secretary at a critical period in the Presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson.  I had the good fortune of meeting him in May 1964 while on a tour publicizing a movie for MGM.  I sat in his office and he told me that when I visited the National Parks and the Fish & Game Commissions and spoke to the staff, I should listen carefully to the views of the junior staff because they were facing the day to day realities.  It was from him that I received a copy of the Proceedings of the Senate of the Wilderness Bill. A document of enormous importance which enabled me to have wilderness areas proclaimed in my home country, South Africa.  I was facing some very hostile critics of the wilderness concept, but those proceedings had every argument for and against wilderness, which enabled me to anticipate and have the right answer to the hostile questions and efforts to derail what I was trying to do.    He encouraged me in my work with the Wilderness Leadership School and the taking out of young people, as well as leading businessmen and politicians, into the wilderness for reconciliation in the natural world.”

Ian Player to David Barron
October 25, 2012


Ian Cedric Audley Player was born on 15 March 1927, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Educated at St. John’s College, he went on to serve in the SADF – 6th South African Armoured Division attached to the American 5th Army, in Italy 1944 – 1945.

A globally recognised conservation legend, Dr Ian Player was a pioneer, a visionary and an activist who has profoundly influenced conservation and changed the lives of countless people. He grew up in the pioneering days of nature conservation in Africa, working for months on end in the wilderness.

His sporting passion was canoeing. After initiating the Pietermaritzburg to Durban Canoe Marathon (Dusi), he went on to win the race three times. His exploits are well documented in his book Men, Rivers and Canoes.

On his return from WWII he worked underground in the gold mines before taking a position in the (then) Natal Parks Board. He rose to the rank of Chief Conservator of Zululand by the time he took early retirement, in 1974. He was made a member of the Board on three occasions, the only Parks Board staff member to do so. Later in life he also served on the Board of SanParks (SA National Parks Board).

His list of awards is extensive, ranging from Knight in the Order of the Golden Ark (Holland), a decoration for Meritorious Service (Republic of South Africa civilian award) through to Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris causa – Natal University, South Africa, 1984 and Doctor of Laws (LLD) Honoris causa – Rhodes University, South Africa, 2003.

From 1952, as Warden of the iMfolozi Game Reserve, Dr Player spearheaded two important and far-reaching initiatives. The first was Operation Rhino, in which he led the team that pioneered the methods and drugs to immobilize and translocate large mammals. The team captured and moved many of the remaining population of southern white rhino to save them from the brink of extinction. As a direct result, white rhinos now inhabit their former distribution range within many national parks and game reserves, private game farms, zoos and parks around the world.

The second initiative was Dr Player’s recognition of the value of wilderness for the human spirit and for biodiversity conservation. Professionally, this led to the designation of the iMfolozi and St. Lucia Wilderness Areas in the late 1950s — the first wilderness areas to be zoned in South Africa and on the African continent. It also fired his personal quest to understand the human psyche through dreams and drawing on the work of Swiss analyst Carl Jung, which he explored assiduously for decades with the late Sir Laurens van der Post. Dr Player was one of the founding forces for the Cape Town Centre for Applied Jungian Studies, the first such centre in Africa.

Dr Player resigned from the Natal Parks Board (NPB) to focus his energies on the wilderness movement. He continued conservation work within the NGO sector, leading to one of his most notable achievements – the founding of the globally recognised Wilderness Leadership School (WLS). The WLS was the nucleus from which many other collaborative organisations have emerged, including the World Wilderness Congress (WWC) — implemented by Vance Martin and the WILD Foundation on behalf of the Wilderness Network — held every four years in various countries throughout the world.

Ian Player was also the founding force of the Wilderness Foundation (Africa) Wilderness Foundation (UK), The WILD Foundation (based in the USA and working globally), and the Magqubu Ntombela Memorial Foundation (in honour of his friend, colleague, and mentor). Under the auspices of Andrew Muir, who worked alongside and was mentored by Ian Player, the Wilderness Foundation SA has become one of the major conservation organisations in southern Africa.

Until very recently, Ian Player continued to serve on the Boards of these organisations that today play a significant role in conservation in Africa and globally. Despite life-long physical challenges that steadily increased with age, he nonetheless worked tirelessly on his life’s work for wild nature.

Ian Player has written many books of which White Rhino Saga and Zululand Wilderness Shadow and Soul are probably best known. His biography Into the River of Life was published towards the end of 2013.

Ian Player committed his life to conservation and, in particular, to the preservation of the rhino through his services as a consultant to many organisations sharing this common interest.

He is survived by Ann Player, his life-long wife, sons Kenneth and Amyas, daughter Jessica, and their families. His younger brother is the famous golfer, Gary Player.

Originally posted on the ICCF website.

WILD 10 – World Wilderness Congress – The Global Gathering (Plenary)

 4-5-6 October 2013

(Draft plenary program topics and speakers- subject to change)

Updated 5 September 2013

Welcome to the Global Gathering of WILD10. These are three, very full days of high-caliber substance, and positive, practical solutions…with a great cultural program!   Drawing from the best of both the host Latin culture and the US/Northern Europe…we will start early AND end late…with some breaks for refreshments and lunch about 130p.   These plenary sessions will be short, visual, and fast moving,  summarizing the very many conservation solutions globally that are making the world a wilder place. Most of them will direct delegates to the more detailed discussions and workshops in the Global Forum working sessions (8-9-10 October)




Co-Chairs: Odile Rodriguez de la Fuente; Magnus Sylvén; Vance G. Martin
With WILD10 “Ambassadors” from Spain

Ceremonial and visual opening, with “the story” of the World Wilderness Congress; a blessing by Indigenous leaders from around the globe; and brief welcomes and perspectives from numerous invited leaders such as        

  • Ian Player, South Africa (Founder, World Wilderness Congress and The WILD Foundation)
  • Exequiel Ezcurra, Mexico (Chairman, WILD9; Director, University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States)
  • Federico Ramos, Spain  (Secretary of State for the Environment of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment & President of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GCSS-12/GMEF)
  • Alfonso Fernández Mañueco (Mayor of Salamanca)
  • HE Patrick van Klaveren (Ambassador of Monaco to Spain)
  • His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco (video)
  • Johan van de Gronden (Director, World Wide Fund for Nature, Netherlands)
  • Ernesto Enkerlin, Mexico (Chairman, World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN); From Jeju to Salamanca to Sydney
  • Wild Nature of Spain  (a visual feast by AEFONA)



EUROPE – A CENTURY OF NATURE CONSERVATION – Chair – Ladislav Miko (LM, DG of SANCO; former Director of Biodiversity, DG Environment, European Commission; former Minister of Environment, Czech Republic)

  • The European Commission – Janez Potočnik (European Commissioner for the Environment) [Video];  and Angelo Salsi  (Directorate General Environment; Head, Life Nature Unit)
  • The Council of Europe – Eladio Galliano (Head, Biological Diversity Unit)
  • Creating Wilderness in the Alps – From 1900 to Present
    • Swiss National Park – Ruedi Haller, Head of Research, Swiss National Parks
    • Making them Wilder – Wilderness in the Austrian National Parks Strategy — Viktoria Hasler; (Deputy Head, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Division for Nature Protection, National Parks and CITES)
  • Europe’s Wildlife is Coming BackRichard Grimmett (Director of Conservation, BirdLife International), and Monika Bohm (Zoological Society of London)   (A Rewilding Europe/WILD10 Launch and Handover to the European Commission and Council of Europe)
  • Making Europe a Wilder Place: Frans Schepers  (Managing Director, Rewilding Europe)
  • European Wilderness – Where From, Where Now, Where To?:  Toby Aykroyd (Wild Europe); Zoltan Kun (CEO, PAN Parks, Hungary); Stephen Carver, (University of Leeds, UK)
  • The Green Heart of Europe  (Danube Carpathian Programme, WWF)
  • The Great Mountain Corridor: Miquel Rafa (Fundació Catalunya- La Pedrera); Carlos Sanchez; (Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre, Spain)
  • A Vision for a Wilder Europe – Saving our wilderness, Rewilding nature, and letting Wildlife Come Back. For All; Magnus Sylvén — A WILD10 Launch and Presentation to European Commission & Council of Europe


THE GLOBE  – NATURE NEEDS HALF  – A PRACTICAL VISION FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE Chairman: Harvey Locke, Canada (Strategic Conservation Advisor, Yellowstone to Yukon, and The WILD Foundation)

  • Nature Needs Half is a New Relationship With Nature
  • Large Land and Seascapes—The Status  – Russell Mittermeier, USA (Vice Chairman, Conservation International)
  • Connectivity- -The Need and the Practice – James Brundige, USA (First Light Films)  
  • For People and Planet – A Global Look at Nature Needs Half  – Stephen Carver, UK (University of Leeds)
  • Space for Nature;  Zoological Society of London


2          THE WATERS

  • The Living Oceans Foundation;  Prince Khaled bin Sultan (video)
  • Marine Wilderness: Exequiel Ezcurra;
  • Ocean Wilderness and Indigenous Rights:  California’s Marine Protected Areas
    • Hawk Rosales—Executive Director, InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council
    • Shawn Padi—Chairman, Hopland Tribe; Board Member, InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council
    • Briannon Fraley—Tolowa Dee-ni’ Tribal Citizen & Self Governance Director, Smith River Rancheria
    • Kaitilin Gaffney—Attorney, Ocean & Coastal Program, Resources Law Group, LLP
    • Stewards of the Wild Sea—Short Film by The Baum Foundation and Coyote Films
  • Lake Baikal – Watersheds and The Lake  – Natasha Luzhkova, V. B. Sochava Institute of Geography SB RAS
  • Proyecto LIFE+ Indemares – Sonia Castañeda  (Directora Fundación Biodiversidad


3          THE LANDS  – Chair,  Mary Wagner (Deputy Chief, USDA Forest Service; Co-Chair Global Intergovernmental Forum on Wilderness)

  • North American Cooperation on Wilderness and other Protected Areas: Jim Kurth Chief of National Wildlife Refuge System, US Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Connectivity at a Continental Scale; Bob Debus, Former Minister, Australia, & for Environment, NSW; Chair, Advisory Group for National Wildlife Corridor
  • The Serengeti Legacy; Boyd Norton (Photographer; Co-Founder, Serengeti Watch); and Meyasi Meshilieck Mollel (Director, Serengeti Preservation Council; introduced by Boyd Norton)
  • To the Arctic – (Visuals) Florian Schultz (Wildlife & Conservation Photographer)
  • 20 Years After WILD5 in Tromsø: A Vision for the Arctic and Wilderness Today; Peter Prokosch (Director, GRID-Arendal, Norway)


4          THE CLIMATE

  • Addressing Climate Change through National Parks; Jon Jarvis (Director, US National Parks Service) [live video link]
  • A Personal Mission – Chasing Ice 
    • Jeff Orlowski (8 min, inc 3 min trailer) with Jim Balog (Live video link)


5        THE BIG TREES – ENARBOLAR        Odile Rodrigues de la Fuente and a Representative of Diputación de Valencia

  • Opening of Exhibition,  EnArbolar





1          INDIGENOUS AND COMMUNITY LANDS AND SEAS (ICLS) – WORKING TOGETHER FOR BIOCULTURAL RESILIENCE —CoChairs—Terry Tanner, USA (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Montana); Sharon Shay Sloan, USA (Program Director, ICLS, The WILD Foundation)

  • What kind of society do we want to build? —  Putting indigenous people in the driving seat to ensure development reinforces their values, their culture and their law; Wayne Bergman, (Nykina Mangala, Traditional Owner; CEO, KRED Enterprises; Kimberley Australia)
  • Protecting Sacred Natural Sites, Indigenous Territories, World Heritage Sites and Protected Area in the Face of Mounting Pressures: Mining, Extractive Industries and Industrial Development;  Nigel Crawhall (South Africa)  and Liz Hosken (UK) with Nnimmo Bassey, (Nigeria video); (The Gaia Foundation)
  • Greater Laponia – Partnering to Protect Culture and Nature in Sweden–  Mats Berg (Sami), Ulf Lovén 
  • Introducing Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) 
    The ICCA Consortium  (live video link)



  • WILD Cities — Chicago Wilderness: A Metropolitan Alliance for the Conservation of Nature;   Cathy Geraghty, USA (Director of Strategic Initiatives, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Illinois)
  • Inspiring a New Generation – Panel –Alan Latourelle (CEO Parks Canada); Nancy Colleton, Deputy Chair of the IUCN CEC; D, Simon Jackson (Co-Director, Coalition WILD; Founder, Spirit Bear Youth Coalition) Sally Barnes, Chief Executive, Office of Environment and Heritage, Government of New South Wales and others
  • CoalitionWILD: A Movement of Rising Leaders to Create a Wilder World; D. Simon Jackson, Spirit Bear Youth Coalition and The WILD Foundation; Crista Valentino and  Jon Mobeck (The Murie Center)    A WILD10 Initiative Launch



  • 2014 – 50th Anniversary of the US Wilderness Act, 1964 – 2013 Vicky Hoover, USA (Sierra Club)
  • The Wilderness Act, Finland  – A Successful Tool to Conserve the North Together with People (Arto Ahokumpu, Metsähallitus)
  • The Rewilding 10 – Making it Real;   Staffan Widstrand, Sweden  (Rewilding Europe)



  • A Message from HRH Prince Charles (video)
  • John Muir Award: Changing Attitudes and Lives by  Connecting People and Wild Places: Rob Bushby & Stuart Brooks, Scotland, UK (The John Muir Trust)
  • The Scottish Highlands: People and Rewilding;   Alan Watson Featherstone (Founder, Trees for Life; The Findhorn Foundation)



  • Wilderness Foundation (South Africa) Pinky Kondlo and Lincoln Myers    
  • Wilderness Foundation (UK);  Joanne Roberts, CEO
  • Catalyzing Cultures/Outward Bound, Oman Mark Evans (CEO)


6          CONSERVATION, CULTURE & WILDNESS   Chair, Razan al Mubarak; Minister, Environmental Protection Agency, Abu Dhabi

  • Wildlife Art: Then and Now – Adam Duncan Harris (Chief Curator, National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, Wyoming)
  • Urban Wildness  — Wall and Graffiti Art: Boa Mistura,  Madrid
  • “La Pedrera & Gaudi: Lessons from Nature”  — Dr Silvia Vilarroya Oliver (Curator of the Permanent Exhibition of La Predera, Barcelona)
  • Art and Conservation Activism –– Asher Jay, USA



  • Petabyte Planet; How Social & Mobile Media are Changing Our Ability to Make the World a WILDer Place — Trista Patterson
  • Future Wild: Mobilizing a New Generation of Environmental Explorers and Activists ; Yasser Ansari, Founder and CEO, Project Noah
  • The Great Nature Project — John Francis, Vice President, National Geographic Institution[15]
  • International League of Conservation Writers (ILCW)  The 5th WILD  Writing Award – Presentation by Robert Baron, Founder (ILCW)



  • Staffan Widstrand (Founder and Managing Director, Wild Wonders of Europe)



  • Flamenco-fusion;  Raúl Cobo and Enriquito Sexet, Spain
  • Music of Ancient Iberia; Luis Paniagua, Spain
  • Bird, Whale, But: Music from Nature;  David Rothenberg, USA
  • The Hip Hop Guide to Wilderness…and Evolution  Baba Brinkman, Canada




1          Should we restore the European Megafauna? – Keynote–  George Monbiot; author; environmental journalist



  • Bush Heritage, Australia: Keith Tuffley
  • Land Stewardship Platform – Sonia Castañeda  (Directora Fundación Biodiversidad)
  • Creating a European Landowners Alliance for Wildlands & Nature: (Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera, EUROSITE, European Landowners Organisation) – A WILD10  Initiative Launch



  • A Nature-Based Society – The Basis for Health and Prosperity – Cormac Cullinan, South Africa
  • The Golden Steppe – Mitigating Economic Development for Large-Scale Wildlife Migration in Central Asia – Frankfurt Zoological Society
  • What Does It Take To Be an Effective Business Model in Conservation? – Lessons from the Global Tiger Initiative Andrey Kushlin, (Program Manager, Global Tiger Initiative, The World Bank)
  • CARPATHIA – The Business of Changing a Managed Landscape Back Into Wilderness
    Christoph Promberger, Barbara Promberger-Fuerpass, and Mihai Zotta; Romania
  • The Buisness Case for The WILD – Private Entrepreneurship and Commercial Finance as Tools for Conserving Wildlands;  Giles Davis, UK (Conservation Capital) A Rewilding Europe/WILD10 Launch


4         HUNTING AND SUSTAINABILITY FOR WILDERNESS: A Discussion — Host: Brittany Peterson (Principal, Rock Environmental; Trustee, The WILD Foundation)


  • Melissa Simpson, Washington, DC USA Executive Director. Safari Club International, SCI)
  • Tamas Margescu, Hungary (CEO, International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, CIC)
  • Terry Tanner, Montana, USA (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)
  • Juan Delibes de Castro, Spain (Director, Canal + Canal Caza y Pesca)



Chair: Bittu Sahgal, Founder, Sanctuary Asia

  • Community Conservancies, Public-Private Partnerships, Conservation Easements; Neil Birnie, Scotland, UK (Rewilding Europe)
  • The Namibia Model  — Chris Weaver (CEO, World Wildlife Fund, Namibia) and Maxi Louis,  (Director,  The Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations (NACSO)
  • Tsavo East: Resisting Poaching through Action, Communities and Education—Ian Saunders, (Director, Tsavo East Trust); Nzioki wa Makau; (Judge of the High Court, Kenya)
  • The Mali Desert Elephants —Community Conservation During Rebellion, War, and Global Terrorism;Susan Canney  (Director, The Mali Elephant Project, The WILD Foundation and the International Conservation Fund of Canada) and Nomba Ganame, Mali (Field Manager, MEP)



  • David Johns (Wildlands Network)
  • Vivek Menon, (Executive Director, Wildlife Trust of India)
  • Bill  Laurence, Australia (Distinguished Research Professor & Australian Laureate; Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation, James Cook University)
  • What make protected areas effective in conserving biodiversity? Stephen Woodley, Canada Co-Chair, WCPA-SSC Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas, IUCN
  • John Robinson; (Vice President, Wildlife Conservation Society; Vice President, IUCN)



  • Primary Forests—A Keystone Priority—Charles Barbour, Forest Chief,  US Department of State
  • The Fishing Cat –Thailand Passanan Cutter
  • China –Tigers and More – Li Quan (China Tiger Revival); and Mr. Chen Jianwei ; Deputy General Secretary China Wildlife Conservation Association
  • Tracks of Giants  — An Expedition for Conservation Across Southern Africa; Ian MacCullam, Ian Michler 
  • Wilderness, International Cooperation, and Peace – KAZA  Werner Myburgh, (CEO, Peace Parks Foundation)  President Chissano, Mozambique


8          CLOSING SESSION – Summary, Achievements, and Overview of the Global Forum (8-9-10 October, working sessions)