About us

WESSA – where passion meets purpose

 

 

For the past 97 years, WESSA has been the leading environmental and wildlife organisation in Southern Africa.

 

We address critical challenges – climate change, biodiversity protection and pollution reduction – through awareness, education, strategic partnerships and platforms for people to act and get involved in safeguarding the natural world.

 

Since the environmental issues we face are the direct result of the way humans live on this planet and utilise natural resources, solutions require a human-centred response.

 

Our Eco-Schools, LEAF (Learning about Forests) and YRE (Young Reporters for the Environment) programmes involve more than half a million learners across all nine provinces. Management of beaches and coastal waters falls under the Blue Flag programme, while the Green Key programme supports environmentally responsible and sustainable tourism.

 

As founding members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), WESSA is a highly respected presence on many national and regional conservation bodies.  We are the appointed operator in South Africa for five FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) programmes and, as a UNESCO partner, we support education for sustainable development across the southern African region.

Through stakeholder collaboration and strategic partnerships, we help shape environmental policy and ensure compliance by acting as environmental watchdogs, using our extensive network of offices, members and concerned citizens.

Protecting the environment

WESSA is a registered non-profit organisation (NPO no ???) and Public Benefit Organisation (PBO number 18/11/13/1903) which means that donations are tax deductible in terms of Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.

Why partner with us?

 

 

By joining forces with us, you’re not just funding a project – you’re investing in the future of our planet. Through our network of supporters, partners and funders, we’re able to create significant environmental improvements across Southern Africa.

Join our cause

 

 

We invite you to be part of shaping the future of our environment. Together, we can educate, advocate, and act for a world where sustainability is not just a goal, but a reality. For more information, please contact ??

OUR VISION

To lead citizen action in the region – supporting climate action, fighting biodiversity loss and promoting a no pollution tolerance culture.

OUR MISSION

To Educate, Advocate and Act for environmental and social justice, climate action, biodiversity protection and pollution education in Southern Africa.

OUR IMPACT


Climate action

We aim to address climate change through mitigation, adaptation, resilience, advocacy, and stakeholder engagement.


Biodiversity and Habitat Integrity

We focus on protecting biodiversity and habitats, working with stakeholders, and supporting sustainable resource utilization.


Pollution Reduction

We address aquatic, terrestrial, and air pollution through programmes, education, advocacy and clean-up initiatives.

Almost a century of caring

 

Whilst we can trace our roots back to 1883, our organisation officially formed in 1926 as The Wildlife Protection Society of South Africa, when a group of passionate individuals got together to campaign for the creation a National Parks Board (now known as SANParks), to ensure the proclamation of the Kruger National Park, and to advocate the formation of other national parks in South Africa.

 

During the inaugural meeting on the 11th March 1926, in what was then known as the Transvaal, representatives of the Society sent a telegram to the Minister of Lands, Mr PGW Grobler, urging him to proceed with the National Parks Bill. Two months later, on the 31st May 1926, The National Parks Act was passed.

 

The new Act had a clause, which commemorated the role of the Wildlife Society in creating the Kruger National Park, and provided a permanent seat on the National Parks Board. We are honoured by this recognition, as ours was the only private organisation to hold this position.

 

Over the years we have continued to play a strong role in shaping conservation practices throughout South Africa, proactively engaging with the challenges and opportunities presented by our country’s unique natural heritage and the social and economic systems that depend on it.

 

Although our organisation has changed its name and focus over the years, one very important aspect of WESSA’s mission has remained unchanged throughout our history, and is articulated in our logo: People Caring for the Earth.

 

After 97 years, we are proud of our history. We are also excited about what we are achieving through our current projects and partnerships and – in spite of the significant challenges facing our environment – we look forward to the future and to all the opportunities it will present, in our ongoing quest to be champions of the environment.

History of WESSA

History of the WESSA logo

Wessa logo

Back in 1926 when the Wildlife Protection Society was formed, it replaced The Transvaal Game Protection Association (TGPA) which had the sable as its symbol. At the time, the sable was seen as a prized “game” species. It was, and still is, a popular trophy animal for hunters.

 

The sable is magnificent in appearance, extremely aggressive, and when confronted by a predator, often opts to attack rather than flee. It is a mixed feeder in that it is able to both browse and graze, making it a resilient and tough species.

 

Over the years, many versions of the sable have been used to represent our organisation. The Conservationist and the Killers claims that as many as 7 variations have been used since 1926.

Is there a chance that the sable was actually meant to be the blou bok (Hippotragus leucophaeus), which is a species that was hunted to extinction by European settlers? The blou bok had a very similar head to the sable and they are a closely related species.

 

The story of the blou bok is very similar to the quagga, and follows a storyline that more closely represents why the Wildlife Society was formed in the first place – to  protect animals from being hunted to extinction.

 

Today, the WESSA sable continues to be revered by many South Africans. It remains a symbol of the extraordinary work of thousands of WESSA members, volunteers, supporters and employees over 92 years.