The Zambezi Society mourns the passing of one of Southern Africa’s greatest conservationists, Dr Ian Player

Dr Ian Player, who died on 30th November aged 87, was a true inspiration and role-model for us all in Southern African conservation, especially those of us involved in wilderness conservation and the efforts to save our highly endangered rhinos. 


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Our Society participated in two international Wilderness Congresses - in South Africa and in Alaska and we developed lasting partnerships with the WILD Foundation and the Wilderness Action Group – both organisations founded on Dr Player’s extraordinary dedication to the wildernesses of Southern Africa.

In the 1960s there was an estimated 650 white rhinos in Africa; by 2010 the population numbered 18 800. The very man initiated and led an operation (Operation Rhino) along with his right-hand man, friend and brother, Magquba Ntombela, that helped save this iconic animal from extinction. It is because of Dr Ian Player that there are still rhinos around for us to save. Let us not let him down!


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It is extremely sad that such a tower of strength and purpose has left our conservation community.  But there is consolation in the fact that his inspiring example and extraordinary legacy remain with us as a guiding light for those who come next.

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