WESSA - 90 Years of People Caring for the Earth

a celebration of 90 years of people caring for the earth



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Introduction to WESSA

Insights from our Chairman Message from our CEO How to get involved? Our corporate members Our project partners 90 Years of WESSA WESSA and SADC Reep A tribute to Mlindeli Gcumisa



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EnviroKids Magazine WESSA Magazines A brief history of WESSA Reflections on WESSA

A brief history of WESSA Friends


Why partner with WESSA? A passion for conservation

Thematic areas of focus 28

Working with schools The conservation unit

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Ecotourism unit

Addressing the need for skills development and training in South Africa



On to the next decade in the regions


Whale Coast conservation A trip down memory lane

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Establishing reserves

Friends of Lion’s Head & Signal Hill Friends of the Silvermine Nature Area Friends of the Helderberg Nature Reserve





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Leaving a legacy

Region, area office & branch contacts

introduction to WESSA

The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa is a South African environmental organisation that aims to initiate and support high impact environmental and conservation projects to promote public participation in caring for the earth. For 90 years WESSA has proactively engaged with the challenges and opportunities presented by South Africa’s unique natural heritage and the social and economic systems that depend on it. The environmental crisis that we face is directly the result of how humans live on this planet; this human-centred crisis requires a human-centred response. WESSA believes that working towards meaningful and sustainable capacity building solutions together is the most effective and inclusive way of bringing about the social change required to enable individuals, communities and government to make more sustainable lifestyle and environmental management choices. WESSA has become a leading implementer of environmental initiatives in Southern Africa. These include the Eco-Schools programme involving more than 500 000 learners across nine South African provinces; the Blue Flag programme which focuses on the environmental management of beaches and coastal waters; environmental education and training to address South Africa’s skills shortage; the conservation of life-supporting biodiversity and water resources; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and the WESSA Rhino and Elephant initiatives. WESSA continues to be a motivating force behindmanyof SouthAfrica’smost significant environmental decisions. WESSA proactively strives to shape environmental policy, and to ensure compliance by keeping a watchful eye on the South African environment through its extensive network of offices, members, branches and Friends Groups. WESSA is represented on many national and regional conservation bodies and investigatory commissions, and is a founder member of the IUCN. WESSA is a Section 21 company registered as an Incorporated Association not for gain.

2 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

3 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

insights from our CHAIRMAN

In 1994, I was lucky enough to have been taught the ‘7 Habits of Highly-Successful People’ by the late, great Stephen Covey. One of the videos that was shown to attendees was called ‘White- water’ which showed a paddling team all rowing along a placid lake, in orderly fashion, whilst the coxswain called instructions and kept the tempo of their

recently discovered that the new trend with youth on social media is thankfully moving away from the ‘me’ mentality to an ‘us’ mentality – a new community spirit is developing – and there is a move beyond just being ‘aware’, to wanting to do something together. As we all know, the new youth can also be assertive. As such, I see an incredible opportunity for WESSA in this new context. A few years ago, we took a strategic decision to become a ‘leading implementer of high-impact environmental and conservation initiatives in Southern Africa, and a trusted and effective project execution partner.’ I am proud to be able to say that WESSA has become exactly that. It also saved us at a time when membership funding was rapidly declining. However, I believe we can now complement our Professional Projects business by igniting a new social movement in Caring for the Earth by reaching the youth of South Africa under the WESSA banner if we: • Create a more positive identification to environmental work especially with black youth. This will be needed if we wish to dramatically change the demographic of those becoming involved in such work. Caring for the earth should be regarded as honourable, value-filled employment and viewed as such by the public and private sectors. Everyone needs to feel proud of what they do. There needs to be a level of status attached to caring for the earth. • We need to take note that tourism is viewed as a major contributor towards the economies of Southern Africa and the most attractive aspect of that for tourists are our national parks and other conservation areas. We need to be part of growing projects in the green economy and eco- tourism so that a demand is created for environmental jobs, i.e. linking job creation and quality education to the green economy. The sooner communities start viewing their environment and wildlife as their assets because people come from all over the world to see it, and pay to see it, and that local livelihoods and jobs depend on it, the more the earth will be cared for. • Going forward, how environmental work is perceived as a vocation by the youth will also be key and as such new perceptions have to be created – I believe this is best told in short, eye catching and heart touching digital film clips so that the youth may be reached where they are – i.e. on their phones and iPads. Calls to action need to galvanise them into wanting to become champions for the environment on their social media groups, as well as physically in their own back yards and communities. They should also have the effect of making the youth aware of career opportunities in conservation and related activities that are worth choosing. So, after 14 years on the WESSA Board, the past 7 as chairman, I have been able to watch the rapidly changing world and especially so in South Africa, and realise we have

to seize the opportunity to grow the WESSA brand and its work in the hearts and minds of our youth, particularly our black youth. We are giving to them a troubled world that is environmentally stressed; let’s hope the new informed youth can reverse trends as they become adults and hopefully leave a better world to their children. I am incredibly proud of how WESSA has placed itself as a leading implementer of environmental projects and its status especially inenvironmental education– it has professionalised the organisation and created a sustainable funding model that has really served us well. For this I especially want to thank our CEO Thommie Burger and his senior management team, who together with our committed staff have brought about our strategic realisation. We are an incredibly well- respected, highly effective, very professional organisation that takes caring for the earth seriously. The most important direct task that I was given as chairman for the last 3 years of my tenure was to also ensure we transform the profile of the board to more accurately reflect the demographics of the country and I believe I conclude my chairmanship having succeeded in that. I honestly feel we have paved the way for a transformed board, strong in competence and character, to steer WESSA to a stronger, more inclusive future. Finally, my sincere thanks to the CEO, the board, regional representatives, staff, members and all our stakeholders who in one way or the other have invested of themselves or their organisations in WESSA. Also my thanks to the past chairmen under whom I served on the board, namely Dr Graham Avery and John Green. It has been a great privilege for me all these years. I assure you, I will in one way or the other continue to try and assist WESSA wherever and whenever I can, as my life determines. I particularly want to thank Professor Michal Kidd for agreeing to take over the chairmanship – allowing me to excitedly start what I now like to term ‘the second half’ of my game called Life. WESSA, be strong, be true, be principled, be excited and value always the incredible work you do in Caring for the Earth.

“ The Society is fully aware of the conflict that exists and will indeed always exist between nature and man’s economic development, but it believes that by the creation of a strong public opinion, that damage that is thereby caused to wildlife, can be reduced. The Society realises however, that what is most needed to further the cause of wildlife protection is the enlightenment of the public on the damage that is still being done…”

rowing under strict control. Stephen then went on to show two people in a canoe shooting down a white-water rapid, twisting and turning, instinctively doing what needed to be done to be able to make it down the river successfully. The analogy he was making is that everything is changing so rapidly these days and the pace is getting faster and faster – so that today as we row the race called ‘our lives’, there is so much white-water noise and ‘busyness’ that we can hardly even hear each other. He went on to point out that old success patterns soon start failing because the world and context in which they existed change so quickly. ‘Nothing fails like past success.’ The real point that he left us with was that in a world of all this white-water noise and change, you need a response that does not change – the anchor or true north that we instinctively aim for, that speaks to and guides us in the turmoil. When an organisation has a clear vision and mission, and a strong common set of principles and values that everyone can buy into, then the leadership work is primarily done. In all the turbulence, people have their compass bearings and are better placed to survive and prosper, and engage with authenticity and integrity with one another, and keep moving towards their goals. So, now WESSA celebrates its 90 th birthday. Although we trace our roots back to 1883, we were officially formed in 1926 as The Wildlife Protection Society of South Africa, when a group of passionate individuals got together to campaign for the creation of a National Parks Board (now known as SANParks); to ensure the proclamation of the Kruger National Park, and to advocate the formation of other national parks in South Africa. As such, it is an exceptional occasion for me to be chairing my last Board and AGMmeeting with WESSA in the Kruger National Park, and with my current vice-chairman Dr Howard Hendricks, who is from SANParks. Over the years, WESSA leadership has remained true to its strategic intent being “People Caring for the Earth”. This honourable stewardship has been central to WESSA for decades. I recently read this in Vol.1 of the African Wildlife Magazine dated October 1946 penned by J H Orphen, the President of the Society at that time. It could just as well have been written by me now in 2016.

Now, more than ever, we realise that with the world’s population expected to grow to over 11 billion by the end of the century, and with most of the over 3 billion increase predicted for sub-Saharan Africa, never before has so much been at stake in respect of the sustainability of this planet and everything that exists on it. A few years ago, I realised that with the rapid growth of mobile technology, there was a tremendous opportunity to make the public, and especially the youth, aware of the necessity of caring for the earth. However, one of the unexpected outcomes of the increased technological connectedness has been that humanity has, until recently, never been so disconnected and disengaged from each other and society. Substantial portions of lives have been spent on social media platforms and the level of ego-driven activities has reached epic proportions. One of the negative outcomes has also been that many membership-based organisations, societies and clubs saw large declines in membership. People’s interests and activities became increasingly focused on online activities. Could any of us ever have predicted that many would spend the majority of their lives staring at a screen of some sort? “Selfies”, the practice of taking photos of yourself as often as possible and posting them on social media, has become an almost sacred activity; online ‘friendships’ often between people that have never met and most never will; severe bouts of depression- even suicidal thoughts- because some online friend “unfriended” you. The whole system is completely egocentric. However, during this heightened state of online connectedness, I became aware through personal experience, as well as surveys that I have read, that the youth of today are more aware of issues and much of that has been through information and discussions they have had ‘online’. More and more people, everywhere, are aware of what is going on, what, when, where and how man is abusing this earth, and many are deeply concerned. Added to this, I

Dr Richard Lewis WESSA Chairman

4 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

5 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

message from our CEO

In addition to the above world class achievements, there are many more reasons that we can be very proud of the people in WESSA, their professionalism and dedication in making us a highly sought after organisation to partner with. We have a diverse service offering, based on our solid youth development, accredited training and conservation credentials. We continue to contribute immensely to youth development and school programmes, including the exposure of our youth groups to nature and the environment with our four education centres. We are venturing into responsible tourism initiatives on the back of our well established Blue Flag programme, which essentially supports local governments to prepare and uphold the beauty of our beaches within a context of international and local tourism investment. WESSA is celebrating its 90 th birthday this year, but it is clear that we are a very young 90-year-old indeed. As a collective organisation, board, membership and WESSA employees, we are making a strategic point of renewing ourselves regularly and effectively. We do not have the boredom and experience of 1 year, 90 times over, not at all, we are resilient and strong and on a deliberate and well thought-out strategic path that will take us to even more exciting next generation tactics in caring for the earth. I want to express my sincere appreciation to our outgoing chairman, Richard Lewis. After 14 years on the WESSA Board, 7 of which as chairman, he has left a great legacy of steering WESSA through very challenging times. His very valuable and strategic contributions will be missed.

These rich endowments of biodiversity assets and ecological infrastructure provide immense opportunity for WESSA to support South Africa’s development path and play an important role in underpinning the economy and it is for this work specifically that the Conservation Unit would like to become the “go to” implementer. The Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) has approved WESSA’s application to be the South African representative of the Green Key programme, which means that WESSA now implements 3 FEE programmes in South Africa, namely Blue Flag, Eco Schools and Green Key. The most exciting news for the year has been the announcement by the Minister of Tourism that the National Department of Tourism has entered into a partnership with WESSA for the Blue Flag Ambassador Programme. This has been under discussion and negotiation since early 2014 and we are implementing this partnership with great enthusiasm. Over the last three years, more than 300 young recruits have successfully completed the Department of Environmental Affairs-funded Youth Environmental Services Programme in the Western Cape which WESSA implemented between 2013 and 2015. Four district municipalities were targeted within this region namely Eden, Cape Winelands, Overberg and the City of Cape Town. Youth living in areas with the poorest socio-economic circumstances, high unemployment rates and lack of basic infrastructure were targeted within these municipalities. This programme is an empowerment model designed to provide youth (18 to 35 years) fromhistorically disadvantaged backgrounds an integrated year-long training and workplace learning programme. This has provided opportunities for young people in the Western Cape to broaden their environmental knowledge and gain practical skills to prepare them to enter the ‘job market’ and contribute to societal and environmental sustainability. WESSA produced the “Stories of Change”, a collection of these experiences, written by the participants themselves. They talk about the learning that took place during training and at workplaces. Some are more profound stories about how the programme awakened something deep within them – a desire to enrich the earth or contribute to saving the planet in some way. Some tell of how they found their calling in life and have emerged with a stronger sense of purpose. Some have been inspired to make small changes in the way they live and respond more sensitively to their immediate environment.

WESSA two-faceted organisation; its membership body of volunteers and its professional staff component. Both of these, volunteers and permanent staff, encompass a broad range of opinions on issues that are unified by the values and aims of WESSA. The unity of purpose within WESSA is a

how to get INVOLVED


Join WESSA www.wessa.org.za Make an easy online donation to our work www.wessa.org.za Get a MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card and select WESSA as your beneficiary GET STUCK IN Like our Facebook page WildlifeandEnvironmentSocietyofSA Follow us on Twitter @WESSA_za Connect with us on LinkedIn WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) Subscribe to our Youtube channel WESSAlife 5 MINUTES

can easily be diminished and cause reputational harm if the greater body of stakeholders do not have a common vision and purpose that act as the glue holding the WESSA brand together. I am glad to report that a lot of progress was made to put the focus of specific accountability between professional staff and membership in the appropriate context. Regular meetings are taking place and the synergy between these two groupings will support future membership strategies. During the 2016 Staff Safari, we also reiterated the importance of alignment between our WESSA values and its role in building greatness as a service provider of choice. We are aware that we will have to hone in on very specific strategies with respect to social media and the youth and find ways to engage the youth and define membership towards creating a cause first and then to enlist supporters and brand followers, i.e. the new membership. This is equally true for renewing the passion around our professional WESSA brand. Our reputation as a professional “implementer of choice” in the areas where we chose to operate and influence society to care for the earth, is growing positively and strongly. This is evident from the consistent good feedback we are receiving from our funders and other customers where we execute projects. From a conservation perspective, we focus on the natural environment as the core infrastructure, which is much more intricate and sophisticated than the built infrastructure and more critical to our survival. This ‘ecological infrastructure’ comes in the form of wetlands, mountain catchments, rivers, coastal dunes, vegetation and the like. These give us a whole suite of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services, just like municipal services, also play an essential role in supporting social development and economic prosperity. South Africa is very well recognised for its species diversity as well as its diversity of ecosystems. These and other biodiversity assets offer significant opportunities to support the country’s development path.

Thommie Burger WESSA CEO

Join your local branch

Join a Friends group

Become a business supporter

Volunteer your time or expertise

Leave a conservation legacy

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7 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

our project PARTNERS

INTERNATIONAL AGENCY SUPPORTERS British High Commission, Pretoria CESVI Centre for Environmental Education (Global HandPrints Project) Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) European Union (EU) Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) GIZ GAP (Global Action Plan) UK through HSBC IUCN Maas Maassen NIRAS (global development organisation) SADC Food Agriculture and Natural Resources SWEDESD Swedish Sida UNEP UNESCO United Nations University (UN) USAID LOCAL PARTNER ORGANISATIONS Baakens Valley Community Partnership BirdLife SA Botanical Society of South Africa Earthlife Africa Elephants Alive Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) Game Reserves United GroundTruth Lajuma Research Centre Lapalala Wilderness School Plastics SA Project Rhino KZN Rhodes University (Environmental Learning Research Centre) South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) South African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) Tshwane University of Technology UKZN uShaka Seaworld Water Research Commission Wildlands WWF-SA LOCAL SUPPORTERS Coca-Cola Fortune Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Friends of Twinstreams Trust National Lotteries Development Trust

LOCAL CORPORATE SECTOR SUPPORTERS AECI Anglo American African Bank Coca-Cola Fortune De Beers Development Bank of South Africa Engen Eskom ESRI Ford Wildlife Foundation GIBB Glencore Mondi N3 Toll Concession (Pty) Ltd (N3TC)

companies caring for the earth

our Corporate MEMBERS

Nampak Nedbank Nestle Orion Engineered Carbons PetroSA Rose Foundation Richards Bay Minerals RMB SAPREF

SILVER BUSINESS SUPPORTERS Ewor (Pty) Ltd Land Resources International Panda Bamboo Products South African Sugar Association Super Stone Mining (Pty) Ltd Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

PLATINUM BUSINESS SUPPORTERS Afrisam South Africa (Pty) Ltd New Vaal Colliery/Anglo Operations (Pty) Ltd Rose Foundation Woolworths GOLD BUSINESS SUPPORTERS Arcelormittal South Africa Ltd, Newcastle Works Barberton Mines (Pty) Ltd Deloitte and Touche Derivco (Pty) Ltd Ecoguard Biosciences (Pty) Ltd Heartland Leasing (Pty) Ltd Hollard Life Assurance Company Idwala Lime ImproChem (Pty) Ltd Indian Ocean Export Company (Pty) Ltd Johnson and Johnson (Pty) Ltd Lake International Technologies (Pty) Ltd Leisure Development Company (Pty) Ltd NPC-Cimpor Oilkol (Pty) Ltd Old Mutual Orion Engineered Carbons (Pty) Ltd Pick ‘n Pay Samancor Chrome Limited Sappi Limited Selectech (Pty) Ltd Sishen Iron Ore Company (Pty) Ltd The Success Academy (TSA Properties) Transnet National Ports Authority of South Africa Transnet Pipelines

SASOL Tronox RedCap Foundation TSB LOCAL, PROVINCIAL & NATIONAL GOVERNMENT PARTNERS Amathole Municipality Bitou Municipality Cape Agulhas Municipality

BRONZE BUSINESS SUPPORTERS Bright Idea Project 66 (Pty) Ltd Caltex Mpumalanga North Marketer Chennells Albertyn Attorneys, Notaries & Conveyancers

DC Design Studio Doculam (Pty) Ltd Exol Oil Refinery (Pty) Ltd Flamingo Casino Gum Tree Lodge Howick Travel cc ISIDIS Agartha Project (Pty) Ltd Karan Beef Feedlot Kleenworx Eco Solutions Komatiland Forests (Pty) Ltd Leriba Lodge ML Accountants (Pty) Ltd Ocean Odyssey Knynsa Peter Greeff & Associates Plattern Golf (Pty) Ltd Plettenberg Bay Country Club Sublimation House (Pty) Ltd Sukuma Distributors (Pty) Ltd Table Mountain Aerial Cableway UIS Analytical Services SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORTERS DC Design Studio Isidis Agartha Project (Pty) Ltd Kleenworx Eco Solutions Leriba Lodge Rawbardo Samgro CC Sani Lodge Backpackers

Capricorn District Municipality Chris Hani District Municipality City of Cape Town Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Department of Basic Education Department of Environmental Affairs Department of Science and Technology (DST) Department of Tourism Department of Water and Sanitation Eden District Municipality Environmental Planning Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) of eThekwini Municipality eThekwini Municipality Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) Greater Tubatse Municipality Hessequa Municipality Hibiscus Coast Municipality Knysna Municipality Kouga Municipality KwaDukuza Municipality KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and

Nedbank Green Trust Mackenzie Foundation Table Mountain Fund (TMF) The Blue Fund The Jobs Fund Umlalazi Tourism Association TRUSTS DG Murray Trust Gower Trust Hans Hoheisen Conservation Trust

Environmental Affairs Mandeni Municipality

JB Finlay Trust JW Finlay Trust Lomas Wildlife Protection Trust Maas Maassen Fund Stella and Paul Loewenstein Charitable and Educational Trust

Mossel Bay Municipality Ndlambe Municipality Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality

As one of South Africa’s oldest and largest membership- based NGO’s, WESSA is dependent on the generous support and donations from its corporate members. Here, we would like to acknowledge these companies for their contribution to caring for the Earth.

Overstrand Municipality Polokwane Municipality Umdoni Municipality uMhlathuze Municipality Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning (DEADP)

The Giving Organisation Trust Volkswagen Community Trust Whitfield Family Trust

ML Accountants (Pty) Ltd Ocean Odyssey Knysna Rawbardo CC

8 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

9 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

By Jim Taylor 90 years of WESSA securing a sustainable future for all By Dr Ji Taylor

By Jim Taylor a tribute to mlindeli GCUMISA By Dr Jim Taylor

wessa and SADC REEP

a non-racial, private body, saw the importance of offering people of all races the opportunity to become involved in and become aware of conservation and related environmental matters through the ACE courses. Such programmes were well supported by Dr Nolly Zaloumis, a past President of WESSA, and many other public spirited members. The ACE courses became increasingly popular and were later adopted by Barry Marshall, Mduduzi Mchunu and other staff members of the KwaZulu Bureau of Natural Resources. Many, many teachers and traditional leaders attended these inspiring courses for over a decade. Such programmes have certainly laid an important foundation for the increasing environmental awareness and environmental understanding that is so evident today. Sadly, Mlindeli Gcumisa died in 2008. We honour the work of a great man!

The unanimous approval of the Sustainable Development Goals by 193 countries in September 2015 represents one of the most significant policy shifts in recent history. Officially, at least, the environment movement and actions towards sustainability are at the forefront of global policy. For the environmental movement is this a dream come true or must the real work now begin? Since the 70’s, WESSA has had an active commitment to environmental education as the key long-term driver of change for a more sustainable future. Projects such as the Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre at Mtunzini are reputed to be the first established EE centre in Africa and one of the first world-wide. This environmental education centre, established by Ian Garland and his family, has offered practical and applied training courses for many leaders in society. By the 90’s virtually all traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal had attended courses at the centre and each course included studies of sustainable agriculture, ecology, conservation, land and coastal management. The establishment of Twinstreams was followed closely by Umngeni Valley where, by 1995, 19 000 participants were attending organised courses each year. Bushpigs, an EE Centre north of Johannesburg, and Treasure Beach two other centres managed by WESSA, continue to provide action-based learning courses. A further highlight of this work was when the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme was established by SADC. Remarkably the project was signed into existence by Nelson Mandela (the then Chair of SADC) and WESSA was asked to manage the programme with the work likely to continue well beyond 2016. The thousands of participants on courses and workshops attest to the effectiveness of this multi-national education programme, and three external evaluations have ground-truthed the effectiveness of the programme and reported on its excellence.

Dr Jim Taylor, Director of Environmental Education for WESSA, remembers inspiring leadership in the early days of WESSA’s environmental education programme. Mlindeli Gcumisa was a man who, through his work with WESSA and later with Ezemvelo KZNWildlife, made significant contributions to environmental awareness and understanding in South Africa. His work was especially important in the 70’s, long before environmental matters and the importance of life support systems achieved high profile status. Mlindeli Gcumisa was one of the first education officers to be employed by WESSA. A committed conservationist, Gcumisa was well known for his inspiring speeches, his poetry, his knowledge of the environment, as well as isiZulu customs and related indigenous knowledge processes. In 1976, Mlindeli Gcumisa took over the running of the WESSA managed African Conservation Education (ACE) project, a project that WESSA had taken over from its initiator, Dr Lynn Hurry of the Eshowe Training College and had been run by Garth Owen-Smith from 1975 to 1976. As the ACE Co-ordinator, Gcumisa became well known for his work with learners, teachers and tribal authorities in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The ACE project included a “flagship” four- day environmental education programme, which provided a holistic view of the environment, ecology and human livelihoods. During the course, participants undertook field studies and visited nature reserves, agricultural projects, and local industry in the Richards Bay region. Ian Garland’s Twinstreams Project, where various catchments have been rehabilitated, became a focal venue for these courses, which included a trail through the Ongoye Forest and studies of indigenous knowledge processes. Gcumisa also produced a regular radio programme called Ubuhle Bemvelo (The Beauty of Nature) that proved very popular. The establishment of the ACE project came at a significant time in South Africa’s conservation history. Due to apartheid legislation, black people were denied entry to many of the better-known government-run game reserves. The Society,

In 1993 the Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiated the establishment of a Regional Environmental Education Programme (REEP), which was formalised in 1997, when WESSA was chosen to host the programme and implementation partners were secured. The SADC REEP project was signed into existence by Nelson Mandela (the then Chair of SADC) and the work supports the SADC Member States with Environmental Education programmes. One outcome of this work has been the establishment of three University Chairs in Education for Sustainable Development. The SADC REEP implements its programme through five components: policy support, networking and partnerships, materials development, and training and research. It also works with different partners such as the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), USAID, Rhodes University, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the United Nations University, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and others. The SADC-REEP has undergone a number of external and internal evaluations in the 14 years since it was established. These have been especially complimentary about the effectiveness and relevance of the work in bringing about meaningful change in the region. Dr Jim Taylor


Natal Fieldwork Section outing to Himeville in the 70’s (Keith Cooper on the far right)

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11 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

envirokids MAGAZINE


The EnviroKids Magazine was born out of an appeal from WESSA’s family members. First published as a page for young readers in African Wildlife in 1972, the magazine grew to a 4-page insert and proved so popular that in January 1980 editor Mike Nicol and his team published the first 24-page, bi- annual magazine then titled Toktokkie. During the first few months, membership climbed from 5000 to 8000 and two years later, an Afrikaans edition was released. The early 90’s saw a decline in membership and rising production costs, saw the end of the Afrikaans edition. During 1988, Toktokkie was rebranded as a thematic environmental education magazine and the name changed to EnviroKids, a 36-pager that covers a wide range of environmental topics. Today EnviroKids is one of the best resources to grow environmental awareness and sensitivity among children, and also to promote the values of caring for the earth and environment. Children love the magazine because of its interesting articles, games and competitions, and as a handy resource for school projects. Readers are invited to contribute by submitting articles of their work and some have even gone on to become junior authors and have received certificates for their articles. In 2014, EnviroKids celebrated 35 years and today it continues to inspire the young at heart of all ages. For more information, or to subscribe, contact John Wesson on 083 444 7649 or john.wesson@wessa.co.za.

Over the past 90 years, WESSA has made an enormous contribution to conservation and environmental legislation, compliance and in promoting public participation, both locally and internationally. An important part of this contribution has been the raising of issues and sharing of information through the African Wildlife, and later the Environment magazines. African Wildlife was launched in 1946 and grew to become the second- longest standing newsletter and magazine in South Africa. In 2009, after much research and partnership, WESSA was one of the founding partners in the launch of Environment- people and conservation in Africa. Environment magazine incorporated African Wildlife and brought together key conservation groups in South Africa that include: • Endangered Wildlife Trust • Cape Leopard Trust • Game Rangers’ Association of Africa • SANCCOB • Wilderness Foundation • Wildlands Conservation Trust • South African Association for Marine Biological Research In addition to providing information on WESSA’s activities and achievements, Environment also reported on the many areas in which conservation organisations are working collaboratively for the benefit of all. Environment tackled pressing conservation and environmental issues and provided fascinating, credible, authoritative, well-researched information that aimed to empower and inspire readers to take action for the good of the environment. Unfortunately, over time, the various NGO’s withdrew leading up to the final decision in early 2016 to close the publication. The final bumper issue 25 of the Environment magazine should reach members by end August 2016. With the above as background WESSA took the decision to reintroduce African Wildlife & Environment, which is especially apt as the magazine would have been 70 this year. The African Wildlife and Environment magazine will reach members, after a 5-year absence, in November this year. For more information, or to subscribe, contact John Wesson on 083 444 7649 or john.wesson@wessa.co.za.

12 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

13 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

a brief HISTORY an account of Vincent Carruthers’ time as Executive Director in the 80’s

Ex-CEO of WESSA Vincent Carruthers reflects on the history of the organisation. The most pleasant memories I have of my time as Executive Director of the Wildlife Society (now WESSA) are of the dozens of people I met who were important contributors in the conservation field. I learned a great deal from them and many of them have remained close friends ever since. In 1983 the three big NGOs in conservation were the EWT, the SA Nature Foundation (the South African arm of the WWF) and the Wildlife Society. The Society was a significant player in this trio with over 20 000 members, seven very active branches throughout South Africa and another in London, a permanent seat on the National Parks Board (now SANParks) and a powerful public voice through the prestigious African Wildlife magazine. It had recently played a major role in preventing coal mining in Kruger Park and in the proclamation of the Magaliesberg as a protected area. So it was a wonderful platform from which I could meet and get to know the big names in conservation. Clive Walker, founder of the EWT and Lapalala Wilderness Trust, Dale Parker, the owner of Lapalala, and I worked closely together. Dale and I had been in the army together and he was already a good friend. The three of us held earnest talks about integrating the efforts of our respective organisations. It came to naught because others in the Wildlife Society viewed the idea with suspicion, but I joined the Lapalala Trust immediately after I resigned from the Wildlife Society. Sadly, Dale died not long afterwards but Clive and I have remained close friends. John Ledger, who took over from Clive at the EWT was another person who became a good friend. He combines a profound scientific knowledge with a great sense of humour. Other great personalities whom I met and worked with were John Skinner, Director of the Mammal Research Institute, Willie Labuschagne, Director of the National Zoo, Ian Player, Ken Newman, the author TV Bulpin, Paul Urlich of Population Prediction fame, Tol Pienaar, head of National Parks, Roy Siegfried, Brian Huntley and many others. It was a wonderful learning experience and their wisdom and knowledge helped me to formulate a less naïve understanding and approach to environmental issues. The SANF was managed by Frans Stroebel, a smart Stellenbosch lawyer who was appointed by Anton Rupert. The relationship between the SANF and the Wildlife Society was an interesting one. In 1964 Prince Bernard, President of the WWF, had expressed concern that South Africa’s homeland policy in South West Africa threatened wildlife in Etosha. Hendrik Verwoerd was infuriated by the Prince’s interference and prohibited the establishment of the WWF in South Africa, stating that the Wildlife Society was an adequate conservation entity. After Verwoerd’s death, Anton Rupert started the SANF in 1968 with a strict undertaking that it would not compete with the Wildlife Society for public

of 1982 and joined the following year. The post had been newly created by the Society to centralise the management of the organisation, and put it on a business-like footing. The chance to combine my love of wildlife and my business experience was immensely appealing. However, in the series of appointment interviews it soon became apparent that the Society was facing serious problems. It was in deep financial trouble, it was riven with internal politics and petty intrigue, and the all-important magazine was nine months behind its publication date. Advertisers were withdrawing support while members were cancelling. As soon as I settled in the job I set a series of objectives to correct these problems. The

membership; instead it raised prodigious sums of money from sponsorship based on Rupert’s high standing in the corporate world. When I came into the Society, fifteen years later, one of the first things I did was mount a drive for corporate members. My encounters with Stroebel were therefore focussed on whether the SANF’s 1968 undertaking not to recruit private members automatically implied that the Society could not recruit corporate members. One of his trump cards was that the SANF funded some of the Society’s projects so my fight

of KZN.The visits were successful in renewing strong bonds between branches and Head Office, and between the branches themselves. To sustain communication and suppress rumour mongering I introduced monthly reports to all branch chairmen in which we reported everything – successes and failures – and nipped rumours in the bud. The last remaining hurdle was the African Wildlife magazine. The editor John Comrie Greig, a fiery red-headed Scot, combined a highly qualified zoologist with his remarkable writing talent. But he was also a perfectionist and wrote almost thewholemagazine himself, then had it peer-reviewed and refused to send it to the printers until he was certain

staff supported an incredible work regime and weekends and holidays were forgotten and membership recruitment and fundraising campaigns were vigorously pursued. We placed mail order catalogues in the magazine, we sold calendars and diaries and members sold raffle tickets. (Yes, we sent books of tickets worth R25 to 20 000 members. Almost everyone sent back the money or the unsold tickets – very few pinched the money.) Jo Tanner (now Meintjes) joined as marketing manager and opened a retail store in Rosebank and a Wildlife Travel Agency. We computerised the membership records and introduced basic management systems, staff policies and

of its perfection. This meant that every edition was late. He and I had enormous arguments trying to get a perfect but punctual publication and at one stage he resigned only to return in a huff a week later. We employed an assistant editor to help him but the two did not get on. We had a bumper edition – two magazines combined into one – to help recover the backlog. We asked the past editor, Creina Bond to produce an independent edition to fill the gap but tragically her husband was murdered in the middle of this and she was unable to continue. Then we put out a ‘Best of African Wildlife’ that simply combined a selection of old articles and required no

The job of Executive Director was exhilarating but very stressful. I decided that, once we had met all of the objectives we had set in 1983 and the Society was back on its financial and managerial feet, I would move on. Vincent Carruthers

for the right to corporate membership had to be approached with circumspection. I admired Stroebel, but his legal skills tested me severely and I learned a lot about negotiation brinkmanship. In the end we remained respectful adversaries rather than friends. The society carried on building its corporate membership and SANF didn’t stop funding our projects. On a lighter note, I remember one incident when Dian Fossey was to give a Wildlife Society public lecture at a large hall. I introduced her and sat down to enjoy her leaping about the stage whilst imitating gorillas. She was explaining the importance of grooming behaviour when she suddenly pounced on me and started nit-picking my head, purporting to find a range of micro-fauna tasty to a gorilla. I prefer to remember her for that incident rather than for her tragic death a year later. Spike Milligan was another one who took the mickey out of me in a television publicity interview when I met with him at the Wildlife offices at Delta Park. Early in the interview I pointed out that Delta was a rehabilitated sewage works at which he burst into uncontrollable giggles and refused to let the topic go. I tried, subtly at first and then more desperately, to get him to tell the would be audience about the importance of wildlife conservation and the need for environmental education, but he just collapsed into gales of laughter. In the end, we scrapped the interview and just sat sharing lavatorial humour for the rest of the morning. I had applied for the position of Executive Director at the end

This photo was taken with WESSA during Joanna Lumley’s visit to South Africa in the 1980’s Flashback

budgets. By the end of the first financial year, revenue had increased by 70%. We were out of debt and membership had risen to over 22 000. To combat the internal politicking, I visited all the branches as often as I could. These were fantastic experiences and I met some wonderful people doing amazing work. I tracked aardwolf outside Kimberley, I watched rock-jumpers in the Cape and blue swallows in Barberton. Everyone I met was incredibly hospitable and enthusiastic and the Natal Branch was especially active and successful having initiated the critically important environmental education programme. Soon after I joined Head Office, they appointed Malcolm Powell to head up the education programme. He was an exceptionally good director and, together with the Umgeni team, he created one of the leading environmental schools in the country. Keith Cooper, Director of Conservation, was also based in Natal and was doing excellent work for which he was later awarded an honorary doctorate from the University

editing. Then, at last, came Sandy Anderson. She worked miracles in getting John to publish on time and, for the first time in ages, members received the magazine on the date of publication. The job of Executive Director was exhilarating but very stressful. I decided that, once we had met all of the objectives we had set in 1983 and the Society was back on its financial and managerial feet, I would move on. That point arrived in 1985 and I left to find other ways of contributing to the critically important necessity of conserving natural ecosystems. For many years after that I lost touch with WESSA but I have never forgotten the important lessons I learned and the wonderful people I met during my two and a half years in the organisation. Vincent Carruthers EX WESSA CEO

14 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

15 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

the WESSA REPORT Reflections by K.H. Cooper

we launched into our second battle of saving Mkuzi Game Reserve back by our friends the game rangers and the Natal Parks Board. Campbell MacNeillie and I were invited to visit all the Zululand game reserves as guests of the Natal Parks Board. That opened my eyes to the great wealth and variety of flora and fauna of Zululand and later the whole Province of KwaZulu-Natal. Here was an opportunity to do something about saving it for posterity. The Wildlife Society was that opportunity. On our Wildlife Society Committee were other dedicated conservationists, namely, Ian Garland from Mtunzini, Harold Johnson from Inyoni, Mike Rattray from Mkuze (later became the owner of Mala Private Nature Reserve, adjoining the Kruger National Park), Volly van Breda of Kwambonombi, and Guy Chennels of Eshowe. WESSA produced a 16 mm film on Mkuzi Reserve and we campaigned by giving talks, showing the film and writing letters to the press as well as to the government decision- makers. We encouraged the public to join the Society (WESSA) and help save Mkuzi Reserve. Our campaign was highly successful and we saved the reserve, which is still intact today. Since then we have campaigned on many issues around nature and environmental conservation. Some of the major issues included: • Saving our existing national parks, game and nature reserves from various threats. • Expanding these areas wherever possible. • Having marine reserves proclaimed in South Africa. • Protecting all our mountain catchment areas and vital wetlands. • Producing South Africa’s first Policy and Strategy for Environmental Conservation. • Educating our leaders, and particularly our black leaders, and school teachers regarding environmental

The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) has a proud record of conservation achievements over many years. From its beginning in 1926 to today it has fought many conservation battles, saved thousands of hectares of natural land and habitat, pioneered environmental education in South Africa and involved thousands of volunteer members in hundreds of conservation projects. It could not have achieved this without the dedicated support of its members. I first joined WESSA as a junior member in 1952. I had a great interest in wild birds, I caught them, I kept them, bred and even hunted them (Guinea fowl, Francolin and Ducks). I grew up on a farm close to Pietermaritzburg, where my parents ran a successful poultry business, with the uMsunduzi River forming one of the boundaries of our farm. After I matriculated from Maritzburg College in 1954, I wanted to become a game ranger with the Natal Parks Board (known as The Natal Parks, Game and Fish Preservation Board at that time). There were no vacancies so the then Director (Col. Jack Vincent) said he would put my name on their waiting list and in the meantime I should find another job. I managed to get a position with the Standard Bank in Pietermaritzburg. Although far removed from the wilds of Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal), I enjoyed my work in the bank and learnt as much as I could about banking, foreign exchange, administration of estates and trusts, and investments. After working for two and a half years in Pietermaritzburg, the bank transferred me to their new branch inMtubatuba, Zululand. This was the nearest village (with two banks, a few shops, a railway station, a post office and two hotels) for farmers, local tribal people and game rangers based at Hluhluwe, Umfolozi, St. Lucia, Mkuzi and Ndumu. Ian Player was OIC. of Umfolozi, Norman Deane of Hluhluwe, Jim Feely of Lake St. Lucia, ‘Singie’ Denyer of Mkuzi, Ken Tinley and Terry Oatley of Ndumu. Perhaps the last two were not in charge of Ndumu, but I knew them from my school days in Pietermaritzburg. I also knew Ian Player as he had undertaken his first canoe trip down the uMsunduzi River from a point on the river below our farm. While stationed at Mtubatuba, a young boy was taken by a crocodile at False Bay (part of St. Lucia Lake). This led to an outcry by some farmers, both white and black, for the extermination of all crocodiles in Zululand. A small group of conservation-minded farmers and businessmen from Empangeni, Eshowe and Mtubatuba were opposed to the eradication of all crocodiles in Zululand. They decided to form a branch of the Wildlife Society in Zululand and support the objectives of the Natal Parks Board. The branch was formed at a public meeting held at Empangeni on 25 August 1958. The first Chairman was Mr. Campbell MacNeillie, a sugar farmer from Monzi near Mtubatuba and I was invited to be the Honorary Secretary. This was the beginning of my active involvement in nature and environmental conservation. The game rangers in Zululand were delighted to have a conservation N.G.O. on their side. At that time a group of anti-conservation land-owners, north of Mtubatuba, were agitating for the deproclamation of Mkuzi Game Reserve and its transfer to local white farmers with the Wildlife Society vehemently opposed to this proposal. We won the battle against the proposed extermination of all crocodiles in Zululand and

• Campaigning against land, water and air degradation and supporting rehabilitation, restoration, renewal and recycling. • Preventing mining and inappropriate development in key areas of high conservation value. (In this connection WESSA was instrumental in stopping the mining of coking coal in the Kruger National Park, stopping the mining of heavy minerals along the Zululand coast from Cape St. Lucia to the Mozambican border). This also led to the proclamation of the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park as the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site. WESSA has also prevented heavy mineral mining on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape Province. • The Fieldwork Section started by Kosta Babich in 1962 did great work for the Society but alas, that is now all gone. • The purchase of Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve by the Natal Branch in the 70’s. • The inheritance of Ben Lavin Nature Reserve by Transvaal Branch. Unfortunately, this was lost in a land claim.The establishment of the first ‘Conservancy’ in South Africa and many more since then. • Initiating the Mondi Wetlands Programme (initially Rennies Wetlands Programme) in conjunction with the WWF and Natal Parks Board. • Campaigning against the deproclamation of a large and vital section of the Etosha Game Reserve in Namibia (formerly South West Africa). WESSA produced a special report on this which was published as a supplement to African Wildlife (volume 25 no. 1), 1971. • Campaigning for the creation of a Pondoland Wild Coast National Park or World Heritage Site – on going. ••• Publications For 62 years WESSA published African Wildlife that achieved a great milestone in its own right. This publication was incorporated into a new magazine entitled Environment – People and Conservation in Africa. The Society still produces a junior magazine entitled EnviroKids. Several of the Society Branches also produced their own magazines and/or newsletters. The history of WESSA was published in a large format book entitled The Conservationists and the Killers by John Pringle in 1982. So, what started as a hobby and volunteer involvement became my full-time career in 1972. Through my interest in nature and my attachment to the Wildlife Society for the last 60 years, I have met many fine South Africans and seen a great number of beautiful natural areas. I hope and pray that future generations will also develop a strong interest and devotion to South Africa’s natural resources and beautiful natural areas in particular. Since these things cannot speak for themselves they need a strong voice to speak on their behalf. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing better for man to put his energy into than saving our natural environment for the benefit of future generations. Just do it with all your heart and love. First committee meeting of the Zululand Branch of the Wildlife Society of SA, 1958

conservation (ACE and other courses). • Taking the State to the High Court in Umtata (Transkei) as a result of the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Eastern Cape Government failing to stop the proliferation of illegal cottages on the Wild Coast (previously under the Transkei Government) of the Eastern Cape. Here we won a major battle as well as creating a first ever legal precedent giving WESSA locus standi in litigating on behalf of the environment. • Expanding our network of branches, centres and Friends Groups throughout South Africa. • Developing a strong environmental education component at all levels of society. • Promoting urban conservation in our towns and cities (WESSA initiated the Metropolital Open Space System programme). Committee of the Wildlife Society of SA (Natal Branch), 1970

16 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

17 | 90 years of people caring for the earth

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