David Pocock visits WildArk’s Pridelands

by Editor on 10 February 2017
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International Rugby star David Pocock of Australia kicked off his six-month sabbatical in South Africa this week, spending time with newly established conservation organization WildArk on their first wildlife conservancy, called Pridelands in South Africa’s Limpopo province.

Pocock, who is a an ambassador for WildArk was hosted by WildArk founders’ Mark and Sophie Hutchinson of Sydney, Australia and their business partner EcoTraining Managing Director Anton Lategan of South Africa, on the company's first property, known as ‘Pridelands’.

“Taking six-months off from Rugby is exciting and also a little bit daunting, but what a better way to kick-start our journey than in the South African bush,” Pocock said. “We spent four days exploring Pridelands and learning about WildArk’s plans for conservation and ecotourism here.”

“I’m incredibly proud to realise our first conservancy for African wildlife,” said WildArk founder Mark Hutchinson. “The partnership with our close colleagues at EcoTraining, will help build ecologically sound restoration of habitat, open another 4,500 acres into a greater conservancy that includes state owned, private and community areas, allow freedom of wildlife movement and provide local job creation. It is hopefully the first of many WildArk conservancies that adjoin existing networks of private, state or community-owned conservation areas.”
WildArk is committed to securing parts of identified green belts around the world and is working with leading environmental scientists to restore, manage and protect the rich biodiversity of these areas as a way of conserving wildlife.

At 4,500 acres, Pridelands, a former hunting farm will be restored for the protection of wildlife. WildArk and EcoTraining plan to develop ecotourism and education opportunities on the property including an EcoTraining camp as well as engaging local school children to connect with nature through the property on a regular basis.

“I think the most exciting thing about WildArk is that it’s a combination of acquiring land and returning it to wildlife, as well as developing tourism and education opportunities,” said Pocock. “WildArk want to bring people in and teach them about ecology and about the bush. They want people to have a real hands on experience that you don’t often get.”
Pocock, who grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, will spend the remainder of his sabbatical on his family farm in Zimbabwe working on community upliftment and conservation projects as well as enjoying as much time as possible in the bush.
“We’ve become so urbanised that to actually get out and reconnect with nature is something that hopefully everyone gets the opportunity to do. I really do think that there is something deep inside us that connects us with nature and when we do connect we begin to hopefully tread more lightly on the earth.”
Pocock flew to Zimbabwe on Wednesday where he will be based before returning to South Africa in March. Pocock and his partner will be participating in an EcoTraining course to learn more about wildlife conservation and protection.

More information about Pridelands will be released as plans are finalised.

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Mark Hutchinson, Founder WildArk, Anton Lategan Managing Director of Ecotraining and David Pocock are available for interviews
For all media enquiries:

Australia: Sarah Dennis 0418 653 863 sarah@wildark.com
South Africa: Kirstin Scholtz kirstin@wildark.com

About WildArk
WildArk was founded in 2016 by passionate conservationists, Mark Hutchinson and his wife Sophie, with the vision to protect as much of the world’s biodiversity as possible. Mark and Sophie had spent many years visiting the world’s wild places while working in the ecotourism and guide training industry. They became increasingly concerned with the state of the world’s biodiversity and created WildArk to make a small difference in protecting, restoring and managing wilderness areas.

WildArk has a strong philosophy that to truly make a difference in today’s world of conservation, nature and the wilderness need to be accessible to anyone. Through its news and content hub for the wild, experiential learning and travel offerings, and its conservation partnerships, WildArk allows anyone to become educated, engaged and involved in protecting our magnificent planet.

Follow WildArk online at www.wildark.com and social media @wild.ark on Instagram and @wildarkglobal on Facebook

About EcoTraining
EcoTraining's mission is to educate people on the importance of the wilderness and especially the processes that drive the natural ecosystems of the world. EcoTraining’s hope is that participants, armed with this knowledge, leave it’s courses and go out and make a difference in looking after the planet in their day-to-day lives.

EcoTraining's goal is to create guides and guardians of the natural world.
EcoTraining has trained more than 10 000 people, young and old, from all over the world and from many walks of life. There is an exceptionally high recruitment rate for qualifying students, through the approximately 150 safari lodges and operators with whom we partner.

Our courses are run in simple unfenced bush camps in the middle of great wilderness areas, where participants get to truly experience what it is like to live in wild places.
Follow EcoTraining online at www.ecotraining.co.za and social media @ecotraining on Instagram and @ecotraining on Facebook.

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