WILD Foundation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WILD Foundation
Type501 (c)(3) non-profit
  • Boulder, Colorado
Area served
ProductGlobal Conservation Fund
Key people
Vance G. Martin, President; Charlotte Baron, Board Chair

The WILD Foundation is a non-profit organization, belonging to category 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, that was founded in 1974 by South Africans Ian Player (conservationist) and Magqubu Ntombela (Zulu chief, friend, and colleague), and based in Boulder, Colorado. WILD states that their vision is to inspire a world that protects and interconnects at least half of all nature areas on earth in a connected way for the benefit of wilderness and communities.


The WILD Foundation was founded in 1974 by South African game ranger Ian Player and his Zulu Mentor Magqubu Ntombela. One of their most notable conservation efforts prior to forming the WILD Foundation was called "Operation Rhino", the apartheid governments 1960s attempt to save the white rhinoceros from extinction.[1] 2012 escalations in rhino poaching[2] have brought this story back to the forefront of WILD's efforts.

After leaving the government wildlife service, Player founded the Wilderness Leadership School, taking people on five-day hikes in the African wilderness. Started during apartheid, this school was the first organization in Africa giving its participants a thorough wilderness experience regardless of race.

In 1974, the ideas of conservation that inspired the Wilderness Leadership School expanded into the concept that became the WILD Foundation and WILD's sister organizations in the Wilderness Network. Laurens van der Post worked closely with Player in the early days of WILD and was a founding member of the board of directors, serving until 1987. Originally named the International Wilderness Leadership Foundation, the organization began doing business as the WILD Foundation in 1988. WILD has been a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) since 1988, and founder/co-chair of the IUCN Wilderness Specialist Group.

Since its founding, the WILD Foundation has worked on scores of field projects in dozens of countries. In 1983, the WILD Foundation established the World Wilderness Congress. The WILD Foundation has helped foster organizations, such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund based in Namibia, National Geographic photographer James Balog's Extreme Ice Survey, and the International League of Conservation Photographers, a consortium of the world's top photographers dedicated to "furthering environmental and cultural conservation through ethical photography".

For six years until about 2010, WILD and iLCP partnered with the cement company CEMEX to produce a book series about such topics as biodiversity, the human footprint, transboundary conservation and climate change.[citation needed] Starting in the 1990s CEMEX and local Mexican NGOs worked to realise CEMEX's conservation projects in the Maderas del Carmen region in northern Mexico. The Maderas del Carmen was the first legally designated wilderness area in Latin America.[3] This work led to the establishment of an "Area of Bi-National Environmental Interest" straddling 10 million acres of Texas/Mexico border.[4] This area was supported by presidents Barack Obama and Felipe Calderón and signed into law in November 2011.[5][6]

The World Wilderness Congress[edit]

The World Wilderness Congress is an environmental forum. It began with a conversation between friends, Player and his Zulu mentor Magqubu Ntombela were sitting on the banks of the Umfolozi River in 1974 when they came up with the idea for the congress. Ntombela turned to Player and said, "We are doing good work, but we need to do more. We should call an indaba-kulu, a great gathering, for all people to come together for wilderness".[citation needed]

Three years later, the first World Wilderness Congress convened in South Africa. The event introduced the concept of wilderness as an issue of international importance. The congress has become WILD's flagship program and has convened nine times on five continents, drawing thousands of people from around the world. World leaders, such as Mexico's President Felipe Calderón (2009), Norway's Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland (1987), Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (1980); notable people such as Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Thor Heyerdahl, Wangari Maathai, Mario Molina; tribal and community leaders such as Tashka Yawanawa, Oren Lyons, Maqgubu Ntombela; the heads of major international corporations; and hundreds of conservationists have participated in the congress.[citation needed]

Nature Needs Half[edit]

At the 9th World Wilderness Congress in Mérida, Mexico, WILD, with the collaboration of a spectrum of international organizations, governments and individuals, introduced Nature Needs Half, which aspires that humans give up use of half of land and water on Earth, in order to support wilderness. Nature Needs Half is an idea put forth by the WILD Foundation. Marine biologist Sylvia Earle and Jane Goodall have endorsed Nature Needs Half, with Earle's only criticism being that she "hoped that half would be enough". Since its inception, WILD has begun collecting and conducting case studies of places around the world that have, or are on track to achieve, at least half protection.

Wilderness Foundation Global[edit]

The WILD Foundation is a founding member of Wilderness Foundation Global, a consortium of independent, like-minded organizations consisting of WILD Foundation (US), The Wilderness Foundation (SA), The Wilderness Foundation (UK) and the Wilderness Leadership School (SA). Wilderness Foundation Global works worldwide to:

  • Protect and sustain wilderness, wildlife and human communities;
  • Promote the values and services provide by wildlands and seas; and,
  • Provide wilderness-related information, education, experience and training.


  • International Journal of Wilderness ISSN 1086-5519
  • Wilderness Management ISBN 1-55591-855-7
  • Zulu Wilderness: Shadow and Soul, Ian Player ISBN 1-55591-363-6
  • When Elephants Fly, Carol Batrus ISBN 978-1-55591-565-0
  • Una Introducción al Derecho y las Políticas Internacionales Sobre Áreas Silvestres, Kormos
  • International Handbook on Wilderness Law and Policy, Cyril Kormos, ISBN 978-1-55591-680-0
  • Wilderness (published in Spanish as Tierras Silvestres) Vance Martin (images by Patricio Robles Gil) ISBN 978-607-00-1522-9.


External links[edit]