August – WWF South Africa is celebrating 50 years of protecting and nurturing our natural environment, ensuring that some of the most remarkable places in Southern Africa are preserved for people and nature.
Many of these places have become much-loved destinations for South Africans and international visitors, but they would not exist were it not for the significant conservation and lobbying efforts of WWF SA.
Here are five significant WWF SA milestones which ensure our spaces and natural resources are protected and sustained for all to enjoy:
Protecting the Cape Floral Kingdom
The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest plant kingdom on the planet, boasting over 2 000 indigenous plants, from the mighty protea to the dainty Erica, and a mighty New 7 Wonder of Nature: Table Mountain. To protect this unique natural heritage, WWF had the foresight in 1993 to raise start-up capital to establish the Table Mountain Fund, ensuring that this special mountain and its fabulous fynbos will be protected forever. WWF has raised more than R60 million for 215 biodiversity projects since 1993.
In recognition of our national natural heritage
During the 70s and 80s WWF invested immensely in securing areas of environmental relevance. The Langebaan Lagoon was the first marine reserve, declared in 1973, and by 1985 it was named South Africa’s first marine national park: now the West Coast National Park. A year later, in 1986, WWF set up The National Parks Trust to enhance South Africa’s entire network of protected areas. More than 105 000 ha of conservation-worthy land has been secured through the National Parks Trust. Today, these parks are integral to the communities and creatures that rely on them.
Rhino relocated to breeding projects on community-owned game reserves
Since the 80s, WWF 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 each have been relocated and successfully established.
Protecting our oceans and empowering seafood lovers
In the early days of conservation in South Africa, in 1969, the first funded marine research project involved 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 empowering consumers to make sustainable seafood choices through the red, orange or green grading system known as WWF-SASSI, the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative.
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, to clear these water-thirsty plants from the rivers and free up natural water flow. Working for Water is now run by government with over 300 projects across all nine provinces. They have collectively trained and employed 20 000 men and women who have cleared more than a million hectares of alien plants.
WWF SA will be hosting a fund raising gala dinner at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday 1 September, calling on all to join them as they share their optimistic vision to 2068 and take guests through the challenges and successes of their journey from 1968 to 2018 in protecting everything from South Africa’s rhino, to the oceans, freshwater sources and unique wild spaces.
The gala dinner is made possible by WWF’s generous sponsors including Prescient, Nedbank, Sanlam, Woolworths, Spier and Heineken.