This article appeared in the Mercury on 12 January 2015
By Tony Carnie
HUNDREDS of people from across Southern Africa, Europe and the US are expected to gather in KwaZulu-Natal this week to celebrate the life of international conservation figure Ian Cedric Player.
Player, 87, died six weeks ago and was buried at a private ceremony near his home in the Karkloof on December 4 – but his memorial service is open to all and will be at Hilton College, outside Pietermaritzburg, at noon on Wednesday.
More than 500 people have already confirmed their attendance, but it is expected that several hundred others will also pack the venue, which can hold about 1 200 people.
Several chief executives from conservation and wilderness organisations locally and internationally are expected to join veteran game rangers, nature lovers, canoeists, conservationists, political leaders, family and friends to mourn the passing of a man who dedicated his life to protecting the rapidly diminishing area of wild lands and wilderness. Player’s name was most closely associated with his role in saving the white rhinos of Africa from almost certain extinction in Operation Rhino, which began in the 1960s to transfer rhinos to game reserves across Africa and to zoos and safari parks internationally.
The service will be conducted by Geoff Davies, the “Green Bishop” who played a key role in uniting interfaith environmental awareness.
The main eulogy will be given by conservation author and psychiatrist Dr Ian McCallum, followed by tributes from Wilderness Foundation chief executive Andrew Muir, psychologist Sheila Berry, conservationist Dave Cook and US wilderness leader Dr Vance Martin. An international opera singer from Norway will sing, at the personal request of Player.
For catering and logistical reasons, those wishing to attend are asked to telephone Moyra Collyer at 031 462 2808 or to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.