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.
Our community trails aim to enhance the valuable stewardship role communities can play in conservation of wilderness. Our trails expose community leaders and decision makers to the intrinsic value of wilderness, it creates ambassadors for conservation and environmental education in communities and most importantly it allows communities to experience, to be involved and enjoy "the other side of the fence" - the way many trailists do. Imagine living your entire life a few hundred meters from a fence around one of the countries most famous game reserves, you watch tourists driving in and out all day, you occasionally catch a glimpse of a wild animal across the fence, but you've never actually been inside, never experienced this magical place, you're on the wrong side of the fence. Our community trails change this!
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"

What the Wrap program does

The Rhino has always been the victim of modern man’s greed and misplaced beliefs and, as such, acts as a compelling metaphor to initiate the conversations paramount to human consciousness and a sustainable human / wild interface. The Rhino represents our connecton to the ancient past; a past longer than our human experience.  WRAP seeks to further ensure that the Rhino is protected and continues to live in the wild as a living icon to the spirit of respect and tolerance for all that is life.

Community Trails 

The Wilderness Leadership School has many avenues for raising awareness for the plight of Rhino, the most prominent being our Community Wilderness Trails which focus on creating ambassadors amongst community members living alongside Wilderness areas and poaching hotspots. This program is also very effective in terms of feeding intelligence through to Anti Poaching Teams, in fact information and intelligence from communities is possibly one of the most effective anti poaching tools we have available to us. 

Data Collection and Monitoring 

The Wilderness Leadership School works closely with Pilansberg National Park on their Rhino monitoring. The accepted National norm for Rhino monitoring is through an individual based identification method. This involves the physical capture of a Rhino, and through a series of tissue removal cuts in the large ears of the Rhino, an individual number is created for that animal, referred generally as notching. This ear cut pattern allows for future identification of individual Rhino from ground or air, by professionals or volunteer members of the public. This information is captured on simple field observation sheets and collated by the ecological services of Pilansberg and stored in that Rhinos’ individual life history file. During this notching procedure, micro-chips are inserted into the horns and hump of the rhino, as well as measuring the horn lengths and base sizes. A RHODiS forensic kit (tissue, horn, hair and nail sampling) is also conducted whilst the rhino is sedated. This provides conservation officials with invaluable information on existing Rhino populations and makes a huge difference in ensuring successful prosecution of Rhino Poachers. 
Do you want to get directly involved or personally sponsor the costs and participate yourself in a Rhino Notching? Contact us for more details 

Other Initiatives 

In Partnership with a large group of stakeholders, funders and partners, the Wilderness Leadership School has been closely involved in the Rhino Youth Summit (2014) The World Youth Rhino Summit focused on gathering of 100 young conservation leaders aged 15-17 years from South Africa, other African countries affected by rhino poaching, consumer countries in Asia, and other representative counties. Delegates, educators, and conservation leaders, were brought together at the symbolic iMfolozi Game Reserve to directly address the current rhino poaching crisis and develop resolutions needed to stop burgeoning wildlife crime.

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 

Wilderness Leadership School Trust
Bank :FNB
Branch: Mobeni 22 10 26
Account number: 50882039339
Please add Ref: WRAP and your name.

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 concept of original play is based on the premise that young children should be given the opportunity for freedom of expression and space to express individualism. Pressures of modern day living on parents and carers often preclude the time and involvement necessary to nurture the normal behaviours of children. Coupled with urban living and concerns around safety, many children grow up starved of the experience of “getting their hands in the soil” and encouragement to explore in a play environment. 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 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.
It is a program of uncontrived activity preferably in a natural space or even in the school environment, giving rise to spiritual freedom and allowing for an integration of cultures and developing new paradigms in social behaviors. It provides the participants: parent, teachers and child to develop the self-confidence to explore new avenues of learning and self-expression against an ethical background of “hlonipa” (respect) for peers and natural resources.

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.
The young adults begin to untie their limiting belief system, discover more of their infinite potential and rediscover their relationship with nature that is an integral part of their very fibre. From this process children can begin to create solutions to environmental issues and take action back to their schools. We recognise that in order to bring about a change in behaviours in students we need to effect this positively in the teachers to nurture the students and to this end we are adding a train-the–trainer component to the EE programme which will include a specially designed trail to further their understanding of human-nature connections. 
For More Information on attempting an Elephant Walk Program with your school, please contact us here 
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

The site of Mary Stainbank Memorial Gallery is a restored wing of the headquarters of the global headquarters of the Wilderness Leadership School. 

The gallery is the focal point of the Ndaba Nkulu Heritage Hub in the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve in Yellowwood Park in Durban. This venue provides the unique opportunity for students of art and the general public to view this full private collection of the acclaimed artist, who is credited with bringing modernism to the fore in southern Africa, in a setting which marries art, culture, history and conservation in a unique juxtaposition.
The Wilderness Leadership School became involved with this project some 6 years ago when the Voortrekker Museum in Pietermaritzburg decommissioned the exhibition thus giving the Mary Stainbank Trust the rather onerous burden of finding a new home for this extension collection of the artist’s private works. Thus started the journey which culminated in the National Lotteries, along with the office of the Premier of KZN, being the funding agents which enabled the opening of the gallery on 17th November 2013.
Visitors to the gallery are in awe of finding this “treasure” in a setting that is so unique for Durban. Adjacent the original family home which just happens to be Coedmore Castle, the Mary Stainbank Gallery has preserved the feel of the old barn and the walls of the barn still bear the names of the animal feed and the unique  apparatus used for ripening bananas hanging from the rafters.
The opening of the gallery is however, just the tip of the ice berg in relation to the enormous potential of this project that is the full development of the gallery and the Ndaba Nkulu Heritage Hub. Ongoing funding is required to ensure that a curator is given the opportunity to bring this collection to an audience where the public and schools and students of art are given the opportunity to view this important collection. The collection and the archives need to be digitally categorized. The collection itself is in need of restoration for some of the pieces and ongoing  meticulous and professional preservation a  priority with collections of this kind.
A visit to this gallery is  a must for all those interested in art and legacy in a setting that is quite spectacular.

Coedmore Castle

Coming Soon

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 

The Socio-Economic Development Certificate (SED) is a verified certificate that our “beneficiary profile” have been audited. A corporate funder will therefore not need to appoint an independent auditor when they are asked during their BBBEE/BEE score card submission to verify their SED points. We can submit our beneficiary profile in the form of an annual verified SED certificate – in line with the intention of BBBEE/BEE. The SED certificate will enhance your company’s BEE points towards SED.

Wilderness Leadership School Tax Benefits

As a company you can earn a good BEE score with extra Socio-economic Development points as well as enjoy tax benefits by receiving an Article 18A tax certificate from the Wilderness Leadership School, making your donations tax deductable.

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 
Absa Bank 
Hirt & Carter 
The office of the premier, Heritage KwaZulu-Natal
Illovo Sugar 
National Lottery Board 
NPC Cement 
Plascon Paints
Indian Ocean Export Company 
The Hardy Boys 
Clark & Kent
  Thorpe & Hands
  Haggie Charitable Trust
  Mones Michaels Trust
  Wild Heart Foundation 

Art for Humanity Trust


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