WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), is one of the country’s oldest and largest independent non-government environmental organisations. Although WESSA can trace its origins right back to 1883 with the formation of the Natal Game Protection Association, the organisation has been in continuous existence since 11 March 1926, when a number of local and provincial conservation organisations were dissolved to make way for a new national body. The main reasons for this new organisation were to create a powerful focus for public opinion, to force the government of the day to create a National Parks Board (now known as SANParks), to ensure the proclamation of Kruger National Park, and to advocate the formation of other national parks in South Africa.

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

WESSA has been at the forefront of promoting public participation in caring for the Earth throughout its existence and its many achievements in this regard are well documented. The book “The Conservationists and the Killers” covers WESSA’s history for the period 1926 to 1980. A special “Diamond Jubilee” issue of WESSA’s then magazine, African Wildlife, was published in 1986. Most recently WESSA’s 85th anniversary publication “A celebration of 85 years of Caring for the Earth”, was compiled in 2011.