VW continues its conservation role

Over 2.7 million kilometres covered in the battle against rhino poaching, more than 67 000 vulnerable youths brought to experience nature and over 500 households benefit from humanitarian relief.

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These are just some examples of the impact of Volkswagen Group South Africa’s (VWSA) support for the Wilderness Foundation Africa (WFA) over the past three and a half decades.

VWSA has partnered with WFA since 1988, when the company first began providing vehicles for WFA’s sister organisation, Wilderness Leadership School, under the leadership of the late Dr Ian Player. From 1995, WFA became the recipient of a vehicle for use for its social programmes.

Matthew Norval and Martina Biene.

As of 2015, VWSA has supplied a vehicle (either a Volkswagen Kombi or a Caddy) to WFA in support of the Foundation’s Youth Development Programme. The vehicle has enhanced the reach and impact of WFA’s programmes, supporting the Foundation’s following achievements:

  • More than 67 790 vulnerable youth, who have experienced nature for the first time through the Pride and Imbewu Wilderness Nature trails
  • A total of 1 227 graduates from the Siyazenzela Employability, Wellness and Leadership training courses
  • Some 535 beneficiaries of the Umzi Wethu vocational scholarships, who have graduated from the Conservation or Hospitality programmes
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Volkswagen vehicle was also used for the Humanitarian Food Relief project, which benefited 553 households in the Sundays River municipality, with 2 503 food hampers distributed to families in this community.

In addition to supporting these programmes, Volkswagen has, through its Commercial Vehicles brand, strengthened WFA’s Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative against rhino poaching in South Africa. VWSA has been supplying a fleet of Amaroks for this critical project since 2011, with a fleet of new Amaroks being handed over to the organisation in October this year.

The Amaroks have driven over 2.7 million kilometres to date in on-the-ground rhino protection and monitoring activities, which enabled the establishment of a rhino rehabilitation enclosure, supported over 720 rhino monitoring and security flights, as well as the collection of over 225 rhino DNA samples and the fitment of more than 49 rhino tracking collars.

“We are incredibly grateful for 35 years of partnership with VWSA, which enabled us to make a lasting impact on the conservation of South Africa’s endangered and threatened rhino species, as well as supporting the education and development of South Africa’s vulnerable youth,” says Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership in our mutual pursuits of conserving Africa’s magnificent wilderness areas and fostering a generation of economically active and environmentally responsible citizens.”

“It goes without saying that after a partnership of 35 years, we believe in the important work done by Wilderness Foundation Africa,” says Martina Biene, VWSA Chairperson and Managing Director. “We are proud to play a part in a range of conservation and youth development projects as they align with the way VWSA aims to make a difference.”

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