AWF Mourns Passing of Nelson Mandela, Lifelong Conservationist and Political Activist

AWF Mourns Passing of Nelson Mandela, Lifelong Conservationist and Political Activist

Nairobi, Kenya

NAIROBI—As the world mourns the loss of a historic giant, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) remembers and thanks Nelson Mandela for his conservation leadership in Africa. As president of South Africa, Mandela’s vision for the country included many conservation programs that helped protect the nation’s land and wildlife.

Mandela spent his life working for political justice and fighting against South Africa’s apartheid policies. Most notably, he was imprisoned for 27 years for plotting to overthrow the RSA government, but he later became South Africa’s first black president and the first to be elected in a fully democratic election.

While imprisoned, Mandela said he “felt the lack of the wild.” A born conservationist, his accomplishments in that regard are many. In 1995, Mandela supported the establishment of Open Africa, a pan-African project that worked to create travel routes to promote responsible tourism and contribute to rural economies. In 1997, together with Dr. Anton Rupert, Mandela founded Peace Parks Foundation, an organization that works to establish transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs)—protected areas that conserve animal migration routes. Mandela was quoted expressing his deep passion for the program:

“If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa’s animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever. Before it is too late, we need your help to lay the foundation that will preserve this precious legacy long after we are gone.”

Peace Parks successfully implemented the Futi Corridor, a unique project that allows elephants in Mozambique to move freely along the Futi River, from Maputo Special Reserve to the South African border. An electric border fence was removed to allow elephants and other wildlife to re-establish their movement patterns.

“Nelson Mandela’s vision for his country included instrumental initiatives for the conservation of South Africa’s land and wildlife,” said AWF CEO Patrick Bergin. “His work to establish transboundary corridors and boost tourism is a model AWF commends and works to strengthen throughout the continent. All of us dedicated to the well-being of Africa and its wildlife have looked, and will continue to look, to Nelson Mandela as a source of inspiration.”

AWF is celebrating Nelson Mandela’s life by helping to train the future conservation leaders of Africa, such as through its Conservation Management Training Program, and by continuing the transfrontier conservation work that he began. The iconic legacy he leaves behind is an inspiration to conservationists everywhere. AWF is deeply saddened by Mandela’s passing and we thank him for his incredible efforts and the legacy he leaves to the world of conservation.



About African Wildlife Foundation

Founded in 1961, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is a leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF’s programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises that benefit local African communities, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage. AWF is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Kenya and registered as a 501(c)(3) in the United States. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @AWF_Official or @awf_media, or visit us on Facebook at