Andrew Muir

Wilderness Foundation Africa
Year founded: 
South Africa

The Wilderness Foundation Africa empowers leaders to envisage a world with protected wilderness areas for the benefit of all species and inspires future leaders to embody an environmental ethos.

Focus: Environment, Youth
Geographic Area of Impact: South Africa
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Annual Budget: US$ 3.5 Million (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 35%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, South Africa, 2011

South Africa’s unique wilderness areas and natural heritage are dependent on socio-political and economic conditions. The Wilderness Foundation integrates conservation programmes with social and educational programmes.

Through the Wilderness Foundation’s social intervention projects, young people are empowered to become financially independent entrepreneurs and breadwinners for their families.

Innovation and Activities
The Wilderness Foundation is focussed on four key programme areas. Its Innovative Conservation Programme focuses on providing parastatal or agency support, conservation of keystone species as flagships for corridor development/expansion, planning and implementation of proposed expansions including land purchase negotiation and stewardship.

The Social Intervention Programme focuses on projects for orphaned and vulnerable youth. These include personal & professional vocational skills development (Umzi Wethu Training Academies & the Umzi Wethu Livelihoods Programme), income generating projects (the Green Leaf catering unit, Green Leaf Coffee Shop) and SMME development and support.

The Advocacy and Awareness Programme develops environmental standards and information used to brief and motivate individuals, governments and society at large towards a higher ideal of conservation and its role in the 21st century. It is currently focussing on the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa. The Wilderness Foundation has raised more than R8,000,000 towards the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative in the last 24 months which will go towards on the ground vehicle support, aerial support (helicopter & microlight), anti-poaching equipment, educational materials and fact sheets, an anti-poaching tip-off line, training for anti-poaching units, sniffer dog training, DNA collection and tracking devices, research.

The Experiential Education Programme uses wilderness trail pioneers to support and manage leadership and experiential education projects to develop ecological leadership in the country’s youth and decision-makers. South Africa’s history has confined most people to townships or degraded rural areas, and has fractured traditional cultures.

The Entrepreneur
Described as an environmental activist, conservationist and community leader, Andrew Muir has dedicated his life to conservation and social development. He was mentored by conservation icon Dr Ian Player for 13 years, and took over his legacy in the management of the various organizations that Player had founded, including the world famous Wilderness Leadership School and Wilderness Foundation. Muir was honoured as an International Rolex Awards Laureate in 2008, and as South African Conservationist of the Year in 2007. He has a Master's degree in Environment and Development from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, and serves on a number of non-profit and conservation boards.