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South African conservationist Ian Player dies

Published on 30/11/2014

Renowned South African nature conservationist Ian Player has died after suffering a stroke, his foundation said Sunday.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you that nature conservation pioneer and legend, 87-year-old Dr Ian Player, passed away peacefully at midday (1000 GMT) on 30 November 2014 after a short illness,” the Wilderness Foundation said in a statement.

Player, who suffered a stroke on Thursday, was the older brother of international golfer Gary Player.

He died at his home surrounded by his family, the foundation said.

Player founded several environmental organisations and was deeply involved in rhino conservation.

He spearheaded a campaign in the 1950s that was instrumental in rescuing the white rhino from extinction.

“Despite physical challenges that hounded him all his life, Ian worked tirelessly, fully committed to his life’s work of nature conservation and his quest to understand the human spirit and psyche,” the statement said.

Player also founded the Dusi Canoe Marathon in 1951, a 120-kilometre (75-mile) canoe race between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, which now attracts thousands of competitors each year.

The next day, his brother Gary Player said on Twitter, “My beloved brother Ian has cast his canoe onto the river of life that will shortly take him across to the other side. I will miss you.”