Patron’s Circle

Countess Sylvia Labia, the College’s Patron of Sustainability, has an indelible love for nature and a passion for education and skills development; more specifically in the conservation sector. This is borne out by her long standing relationship with the Southern African Wildlife College and its founder, WWF- South Africa.

In the words of Yeats “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” she says. “If we are to save our planet, we need to put nature at the centre of our thinking and decision-making. Finding global solutions is an imperative but driving this is the need to ensure that people are fuelled to lead by creating nature-positive pathways through education, both formally and informally,” the Countess adds. 

Having served on College’s Board of Directors from October 2000 to March 2019, the Countess has a firm understanding of the College’s strategic and operational needs. As the Founder Trustee of Southern African Wildlife College Trust (formally known as the Southern African Conservation and Education Trust), the Countess is also well-versed in its income and fundraising requirements.

The Trust, which was established in 2000 by WWF- South Africa, was the brainchild of the Late Dr Anton Rupert. Well known for his business mind, philanthropy and interest in conservation, he approached Countess Labia to act on his progressive idea of establishing a trust fund to help provide funding for education in nature conservation.

As the founder Trustee, Countess Labia rallied support to further the work and support of the Southern African Wildlife College. To date the Trust has raised over R30-million in support of scholarships and bursaries for people employed in the conservation sector across the SADC region. In addition, the Trust provides funding to various ground-breaking projects as the College, many of which the Countess and her family have supported.

With the Countess’s long standing commitment to seeing the College grow and succeed, one cannot in fact think of anyone more fitting to take on the role of the College’s Patron of Sustainability, which the Countess graciously accepted.

In her new role, Countess Labia is now looking forward to establishing the “Patron’s Circle” in 2021, with the aim of raising the profile of the College whilst contributing to its Sustainability Fund via organised events and soirees both locally and internationally.