tbabfrankHis dedication to natural science was so deeply engrained in his being that it was always hard to separate the career from the character.
Dr Frank Wygold’s living became his life. Nature defined him, and he in turn defined nature.
The unique, eccentric and renowned environmentalist, died of natural causes last week at the age of 81.
Wygold’s commitment to the environment in general and the Friends of the Paarden Eiland Wetlands in particular will be sorely missed.
His friend and fellow Cape Bird Club Conservation committee member, Dr Dave Whitelaw, talks about Wygold with fondness – ultimately fuelled by respect.
“He was a remarkable man. His tireless commitment and dedication to conservation education will be remembered by all who knew him,” says Whitelaw.
He sums up the importance of Wygold’s contribution to the Paarden Eiland Wetlands, also known as Zoar Vlei, by saying that every cause requires a champion.
Wygold unreservedly took on the mantle of “champion”.
Whitelaw says that his friend and colleague committed his entire life and life savings to this unselfish cause.
“This man deserves so much more praise for his work, especially in his unique approach to conservation education,” Whitelaw says.
Over the years scores of children have been exposed to the perfection of nature by means of Wygold’s microscopes and projectors.
His invaluable work in conservation has since been honoured with several awards, and ward councillor Bernadette le Roux has coined him as an “encyclopedia”.
Despite all the recognition, Whitelaw reveals that his friend was in essence a lonely person who ultimately “found himself in the vlei”.
For many people, however, the person behind the passion stays an enigma.
Hazel Petrig, the secretary of the Friends of the Paarden Eiland Wetlands, and personal friend of Wygold lifts the shroud ever so slightly when she describes Wygold as “versatile, knowledgeable, helpful, thoughtful, concerned, and essentially a happy man”.
He was even a keen baker, she says.
“He loved experimenting and brought many of his culinary ‘flops’ for us to savour over tea! Frank used to regale us with fond memories of his childhood, saying that he and his siblings had resolved that hot cross buns, mince pies and pancakes should be eaten all year round, and not just at Easter, Christmas and on Shrove Tuesday!”
Petrig highlights the ever-present connection between life and the environment when she concludes: “It is always sad when people with so much knowledge and interest come full circle… It is a reminder of the transience of all human life and contains in it a warning for the next generation: if we don’t appreciate and conserve what we have at our disposal, we will lose it.”
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. NEITHER MAY BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***
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