Nature conservationist Ian player dies

Nature conservationist Ian Player has died at his home in the Karkloof Valley in KwaZulu-Natal, the Wilderness Foundation said on Sunday.

"87-year-old Dr Ian Player, passed away peacefully at midday on 30 November 2014 after a short illness," said the organisation in a statement.

"Ian Player committed his life to conservation and, in particular, to the preservation of the rhino".

On Friday, rumours of Player's death arose after his brother and renowned golfer Gary Player tweeted: "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. Love".

Subsequently Project Rhino KZN spokeswoman Sheelagh Antrobus said the tweet was "ministerpreted".

However, by then the Professional Hunters' Association of SA had already issued a statement paying posthumous tribute to Player.

"Dr Ian Player is without a doubt the grandfather of conservation in South Africa," said PHASA head Adri Kitshoff at the time.

Player - who is credited with saving the white rhino from extinction in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1950s -- suffered a stroke last Thursday.

During his career, Player served on a number of parks boards including that of SanParks.

He also established a number of conservation organisations and wrote books, including one about his passion for canoeing, titled "Men, Rivers and Canoes," and a biography titled "Into the River of Life".

Player is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.