Very few rural community members have ever experienced the "other side of the fence" when it comes to game reserves and wilderness areas. Very few understand the intricacies of the work and strategies employed by modern conservationists, very few benefit directly from tourism in these areas, this can breed an "us and them" approach to conservation and wilderness areas. But that can be change, and this is exactly what our Community Wilderness Trails are all about, this was Dr Ian Player's central vision, making our wilderness areas accessible to everyone.
Possibly the most core part of our conservation work are our Community Wilderness Trails. The vast majority of our important conservation and wilderness areas are fenced in. Communities living adjacent to these parks see tourists coming and going, they see animals across the fence, they experience occasional conflict with wildlife in the form of predators and elephants raiding crops, they live alongside some of our most important wilderness areas, they are essentially the buffers around our protected areas and the most important stewards our wilderness,
Communities play an increasingly important role in conservation of our wilderness, living alongside these wilderness areas they are our most effective buffers between wilderness areas and outside threats, they are the eyes and ears of anti poaching teams, in fact, one of the most effective anti poaching strategies remains intelligence from communities surrounding protected areas. They are increasingly becoming our most important hope for conservation, unless communities become stewards of wilderness close to their homes, the man vs nature conflicts will always persist.
Every trail YOU as an individual takes with the Wilderness Leadership School goes directly to funding community trails, we simply can not do enough of these trails, the more we can explore people to the value of wilderness, the easier conservation of these areas becomes.
It is difficult to quantify the impacts these sorts of experienced can have on someone's life and the downstream effects, but after 50 years of running community trails we do know this
- People's perceptions of protected areas and the value of conservation is enhanced
- The intrinsic value of wildlife and wilderness areas, the roles these areas play in tradition, culture and our day onto day lives becomes entrenched and appreciated
- Trailists are leaders, they spread the word and have a huge impact within their communities from an educational perspective to a leadership perspective
- Trailists become stewards of wilderness areas, they are our eyes and ears on the ground, if people who are unknown to the community move through the area, potentially poaching rhino, they can feed back valuable intelligence to wildlife officials, they are able to deal with and understand human - wildlife conflict in a new way and deal with it using new strategies
- Many trailists go on to pursue careers in ecotourism and some are even now working as Wilderness Leadership School Guides
- Most importantly, they become part of the wilderness, part of the solution and no longer just "living across the fence"
Rhino Conservation. The rhino poaching crisis affecting South Africa is now recognized as a worldwide wildlife emergency. Modern human culture has become detached from its interface with the natural world. Using the rhinoceros as a symbol that acts as the defender of all life, Wilderness Leadership School, through its program WRAP (Wilderness Rhino Awareness Program) intends to educate through direct experience, creating a human culture that accepts its role of Trustee to the Earth.
What the Wrap program does
Data Collection and Monitoring
Do you want to get directly involved or personally sponsor the costs and participate yourself in a Rhino Notching? Contact us for more details
Get Involved & make a difference
If you are interested in getting involved in our WRAP program, please contact us - one of our new and most exciting opportunities is for you to fund and directly participate in our Rhino monitoring and notching program, this involves real time out in Pilansberg National Park with conservation officials, veterinary services and taking part in a "Rhino Notching" - this is in itself an incredible once in a lifetime experience.
The WRAP program could not exist without the generous support and sponsorships from many partners and Wilderness Leadership School supporters like yourself ! The challenges are enormous and so is the urgent need for resources to stem the tide of Rhino poaching that is plaguing South Africa. Please consider donating towards WRAP - every bit, no matter how large or small helps !
Donate Via EFT
Much has been written about the disconnect of humanity from our natural habitats and therefore “self”. More and more we are seeing the results of this in destructive behaviour in individuals as well as society in general. For this reason, exposing people, especially children to nature, environmental education and raising awareness is core to our work
The Babes In The Woods Program
The Babes in the Woods programme was designed around providing the opportunity for little ones to experience the wonder of the natural environment within a safe and secure boundary with the involvement of parents, teachers and carers. This is a programme of empowerment for children and adults alike to develop a signature of self-actualization through freedom of expression.
The Elephant Walk Program
Inspired by the Matriarchal Earth Ambassador for the Human Elephant Foundation, Nomkhubulwane, which is a life-size elephant sculpture created by Andries Botha out of recycled truck tyres. The Elephant Walk Program was developed to inspire a sense of awe from the natural, direct experience of nature.
About the Elephant Walk Program
The Elephant Walk Program is a full day program hosted at our Centre at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Children spend a day with their own guides in Kenneth Steinbank Nature Reserve where they begin to experience the joy of outdoors and the magic of nature. This is a program tailor made to the needs and objectives of each school. The core elements however, include:
- Self evaluation;
- Leadership development;
- Team work;
- Survival skills.
We are also urgently looking for funders to support us in taking the program to under privileged schools and developing multi lingual workbooks. Please consider supporting this project in any way you can or contact us to discuss how your business could benefit from becoming a corporate sponsor of this project
The Presidents Award
The prestigious President's Award aims to empower young people between the ages of 14 and 25, by providing a balanced, non-competitive framework for self-development that will increase their self-esteem and enhance their capacity to achieve in whatever context they find themselves: enabling them to become responsible active citizens within their communities.
About The President's Award
The President's Award is the Duke Of Edinburgh Awards in South Africa. For many years, the Wilderness Leadership School has been a service provider to the awards providing opportunities for participants to have Wilderness Experiences and fulfill certain award criteria.
The late Dr Ian Player was the first chairman of the awards and was instrumental in getting the Duke Of Edinburgh Awards Program entrenched in our education system.
For more information, please visit the President's Award Website Here
“Journey within” is a phrase Dr Ian Player used frequently in relation to man's encounter with the wilderness. We learn so much about ourselves by being in the wilderness, engulfed in a natural ecosystem where each and every living thing coexists and interacts in perfect harmony, as though it were a well conducted orchestra. One can’t help but feel a connection with the environment and feel a part of the natural world. Many tell stories of experiencing an “introspective awakening” when in nature. Spending time in the wilderness can change us for the better. It helps us grow. It helps us learn and this is precisely what our volunteer program is about
About the Wilderness Leadership School Volunteer Program
The Wilderness Leadership School is now offering an experience of a life time; the opportunity to get involved in multiple conservation projects, trails, education programmes and voluntary community work. The Wilderness Leadership Programme is a fully supervised one, two or three month program that ties together the best that South Africa has to offer. Our volunteer program is
- Based on a One, Two or Three month program
- Specifically designed for international gap year students or summer break sabbaticals
- Includes all your travel logistics, supervision, support, meals, accommodation etc... from arrival in Johannesburg
- Volunteer projects vary depending on time of year and group size. For the bulk of the program you will be based from the Wilderness Leadership School headquarters in Durban KwaZulu-Natal
- The program includes opportunities for personal growth, developing leadership skills, time in the African bush, so definitely not all work no play
Some of the experiences our volunteer program includes
Experience Our Leadership Trails:
Spend 5-10 days on foot, walking through the iconic Hluhluwe iMfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal with two experienced and knowledgeable guides. Sleep and eat under the stars. Take in the beauty of this spectacular landscape and encounter the African “Big Five” on foot. These trails have a significant "self discovery", personal development and leadership development apsect to them.
Experience South Africa’s first World Heritage Site:
Field Guide Training:
The site of Mary Stainbank Memorial Gallery is a restored wing of the headquarters of the global headquarters of the Wilderness Leadership School.
With an track record than spans over 55 years, the Wilderness Leadership School has a long history of forging long standing relationships with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and companies ranging from SMME's to global blue-chip companies.
Why get involved with the Wilderness Leadership School?
The Wilderness Leadership School ticks important corporate social investment boxes, particularly our "people" orientated approach which allows us to offer socio-economic development certification for your BBBEE status. Many of our projects and initiatives have excellent environmental benefits but also job creation, skills development and social upliftment.
We have exposed over 60 000 people to Wilderness over the years, including business leaders, politicians, social activists and entrepreneurs. Our track record speaks for itself, our corporate leadership trails add value to your business and our commitment to conservation is world renowned. If you're looking for Corporate Social Investment partners with an integrated and innovative approach, we would love to talk to you. Please click here to contact us and arrange a meeting to discuss a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and the Wilderness Leadership School.
Wilderness Leadership School SED Certification
Wilderness Leadership School Tax Benefits
Some of our current corporate partners include
Without the help and financial support of our core funders, we would not be able to continue our work, a sincere thanks to the following businesses and organisations:
|Avis Car Rental|
|Hirt & Carter|
|The office of the premier, Heritage KwaZulu-Natal|
|National Lottery Board|
|Indian Ocean Export Company|
|The Hardy Boys|
|Clark & Kent|
|Thorpe & Hands|
|Haggie Charitable Trust|
|Mones Michaels Trust|
|Wild Heart Foundation|