A love letter for an icon

Posted by Sonya Schoeman on 21 January 2015 Tags:

A friend told me this story: she’d gone to a game reserve and on one of the drives, the ranger had shown them a small rhino decaying and bleaching in the summer sun.

The mood among the onlookers turned dark. Here, it seemed, was evidence of that relentless and bloody war for an imaginary panacea for humanity’s many ailments. Here lay a creature slain by men gone bad who arrive in the dead of night, all boots and desperation and guns and greed. But no, said the ranger. In fact, this young female had been killed by the horn of her own brother.

A look of exasperation crossed my friend’s face, ‘I thought, “You bloody, stupid rhino, don’t you know your species is going extinct?!”’

In our country – and the world – many more species and environments are under threat. Here, in South Africa, the fight for the preservation of the rhino has become a polarised issue; that passion sometimes is seen as a lack of care for humanity. Indeed, how does it translate in a country where there is also extreme poverty and many humanitarian issues? But I don’t believe these things are mutually exclusive.

One of conservation’s great warriors was Dr Ian Player, who passed away as we were putting this issue of Getaway together. He was a remarkable man and conservationist, humanitarian, proud South African, a Jungian, an incredible negotiator and exceptional storyteller.

 

Dr Ian Player

‘We have become witnesses, accessories and perpetrators in the steady degradation of our planet. We are almost coldly indifferent to the lovely natural life that is becoming snuffed out all around us. Our world does indeed become more silent as poisons are poured into the air, the sea and on the land.’ – Dr Ian Player.


 

His stories communicated his love of this land. Dr Player began the project to save the rhino, an endeavour we sent our web editor Kati Auld to experience in the flesh and heat. As Wildlands project manager Dave Gilroy says in the story Out of the Comfort Zone (page 64), ‘It’s warm bodies that will win this fight.’

This is our action issue. It’s all about getting out there, on the sea, into the bush, out among seals, under the Karoo stars, flying through Botswanan skies. All of it is about being out in beautiful, special, living environments that we must realise will grow smaller and smaller if we don’t start taking care of them, fighting for them, each in our own way. Dr Player understood that well.

He’s a man whose footsteps are worth following in.

 
Have a look at the full February 2015 issue of Getaway and buy your copy in print or digital.

Getaway February Cover 2015