Ian Player

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Dr. Ian Player DMS (born 1927, Johannesburg), is an international conservationist.


Player was educated at St. John’s College, Johannesburg, South Africa and served in the 6th South African Armoured Division attached to the American 5th Army in Italy 1944–46.

His conservation career started with the Natal Parks Board in 1952 and whilst Warden of the Umfolozi Game Reserve, he spearheaded two key initiatives:

  • Operation Rhino - that saved the few remaining southern race of white rhino
  • Protected status for the Umfolozi and St. Lucia Wilderness Areas - The first wilderness areas to be zoned in South Africa and on the African continent.

Dr Player is the Founder of the Wilderness Leadership School.


This led to the formation of the International Wilderness Leadership Foundation (WILD)], the Wilderness Foundation SA, Wilderness Foundation UK, Magqubu Ntombela Foundation not to mention the World Wilderness Congresses, first convened in 1977.

Amongst many orders and awards he counts Knight of the Order of the Golden Ark and the Decoration for Meritorious Service (the highest Republic of South African civilian award).

He is the recipient two honorary doctorates:

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa from the University of Natal
  • Doctor of Laws (LLD) (h.c.) from Rhodes University.[1]

Dr Player is also the brother of professional golfer Gary Player

Movie HATARI! is helped by Dr. Ian Player's Conservationist Work[edit]

The famous movie director and producer Howard Hawks, wanted a movie about people who catch animals in Africa for zoos, a dangerous profession with exciting scenes the likes of which had never been seen on-screen before. The name of his blockbuster movie is Hatari!, starring John Wayne. Hawks increased his knowledge on animal catching from the humane work of Dr.Player. In 1952 South Africa was disastrously embarked to eliminate all large wild animals to protect livestock, and only 300 white rhinos survived. Player then started his famed rhino catching technique to relocate and save the white rhinos. Player’s humane project was called Operation Rhino and the renowned film documentary named Operation Rhino was produced. Hawks studied this film documentary repeatedly to help incorporate aspects of it into his film Hatari!.[2][3]

Selected Works[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Walters, Paul (2003). "CITATION by the Rhodes University Public Orator, Professor Paul Walters" (doc). Rhodes University. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  2. ^ Thomas McIntyre, May/June 2012, “Fifty Years of HATARI! – The Story of Most Expensive Safari In the World”, Sports Afield, pg 70
  3. ^ Todd McCarthy, Howard Hawks: the grey fox of Hollywood, New York, Grove Press, 1997, pg 575, ISBN 0-8021-1598-5