The World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) is celebrating 50 years of conservation efforts that have seen the nurturing and continued protection of Southern Africa’s natural environment and wildlife. Through its lobbying efforts and educational campaigns, travellers from the region and further afield continue to enjoy the area’s pristine natural terrain and wildlife.

Within its five decade tenure, the WWF-SA has achieved many considerable feats in areas of wildlife, water and the ocean, ensuring our spaces and natural resources are protected and sustained for all to enjoy.

A black rhino ( Diceros bicornis ) in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. Photo Credit: Richard Edwards

Since the 80s, the organisation has been involved with conserving the iconic and endangered African rhino – both black and white. With great foresight in 2003, far ahead of the devastating rhino horn poaching crisis, WWF established a breeding and subsequent relocation project for the critically endangered black rhino. In 2007, the first community-owned game reserve received a group of black rhino from WWF’s breeding project. To date, 11 new groups of about twenty black rhino have been relocated and successfully established.

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The organisation’s water initiatives have resulted in a million hectares of alien plants cleared, freeing up natural water flow. In the mid-90s WWF helped to catalyse a national job creation initiative in areas of high density invasive alien vegetation. This was to clear these water-thirsty plants from the rivers and free up natural water flow. Working for Water is now run by the South African government with over 300 projects across all itsnine provinces. They have collectively trained and employed 20 000 men and women,who have cleared more than a million hectares of alien plants.

Wekkerstroom in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Photo credit: Scott Ramsay

The WWF-SA has also helped protect our oceans and empower seafood lovers. In the early days of conservation in South Africa, in 1969, the first funded marine research project involved the tagging of 200 000 loggerhead turtles on the east coast. In recent years WWF-SA has been driving change across the entire marine sector through fishing companies and retailers, as well as teaching consumers to make sustainable seafood choices through the red, orange or green grading system known as WWF-SASSI, the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

Photo credit: Hougaard Malan

With South Africa’s natural beauty being one of the country’s star tourist attractions, WWF-SA CEO Dr Morné du Plessis describes SA as being “among the 10 most spectacularly biologically diverse countries in the world,” as she emphasises the importance of a continued partnership between the organisation and the sector.

READ MORE: In the footsteps of giants with wild African elephants

“Tourism is becoming our economy’s most important growth sector – both by generation of income and jobs. It is the diversity of both our biological and cultural riches that attract tourists. Thus, much of the work that WWF does in the area of sustaining our natural heritage, forms the foundation of this industry.”

“WWF South Africa has worked very closely with the tourism sector over many years to raise awareness around key issues such as water, energy and sustainable food production. We have also partnered with key tourism-related sectors such as the wine industry, in developing sustainable production programmes such as the Wine ‘Conservation Champions’ programme. Our work in developing livelihoods for communities surrounding protected areas is also dependant on an ongoing partnership with the tourism sector,” adds Justin Smith, Head of Business Development at WWF-SA.

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Members of the public can also get involved. “Simple things like becomingpart FacebookTwitter and Instagram communities and registering for our e-newsletters will allow us to create opportunities for involvement in our campaigns like Journey of Water and Earth Hour,” says Smith. “Members of the public looking to donate to WWF-SA can do so via our website: www.wwf.org.za/donate. Selecting WWF-SA as one’s MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet beneficiary is another way individuals can support us. Those with SAA voyager miles can also donate their miles to WWF-SA.”

WWF-SA will be hosting a fund raising gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on Saturday 28 July 2018 and at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday 1 September. They’re calling on guests to join them as they share their optimistic vision to 2068. Over the course of the evening, they will learn about the challenges and successes of  WWF-SA’s journey from 1968 to 2018 in protecting everything from South Africa’s rhino, to the oceans, freshwater sources and unique wild spaces.

To book a seat and for more information visit wwf.org.za or contact Nabeelah Khan on 021 657 6612 or nkhan@wwf.org.za.

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