A Brief History of Gondwana Alive

The Early Years

1998 (28 June-5 July):  ‘10th International Gondwana Symposium’, University of Cape Town; GA initiated/founded in and around this event by John M. Anderson (JMA).

1998 (3 December):   meeting with Prof Jakes Gerwel (chief advisor to Nelson Mandela);      JMA, Francis Thackeray, Maarten de Wit, at State President’s Office, Cape Town.

1998 (late Dec):  Nelson Mandela signs endorsement for ‘Gondwana Alive’.

1999 (early months):  Endorsements for GA from several global leaders in various fields;

Secretary-General Kofi Annan (of the United Nations), The Dalai Lama,

Prince Charles (HRH the Prince of Wales), Sir David Attenborough (‘Life on Earth’),

Jane Goodall (fountainhead research on chimpanzee behaviour),

James Lovelock (originator of the Gaia hypothesis), Richard Leakey (palaeoanthropologist).

1999:  ‘Towards Gondwana Alive’ (TGA); 1st edition published, Gondwana Alive Society;      funded largely by Adv. Francois Junod.

1999 (later):  Claudius van Wyk (CvW) introduced to JMA.

2000:  CvW takes on leadership of the GA Society; receives funding from Southern African Development Bank (SADP) to promote activities.

2001:  ‘Towards Gondwana Alive’; 2nd edition published (GA Soc.).

2002 (26 Aug-4 Sept):  ‘World Summit on Sustainable Development”, Johannesburg; under CvW direction, GA plays a lively role at the Summit;

Princess Irene of the Netherlands participates in our GA symposium at WSSD;

Dame Jane Goodall & JMA meet at WSSD.


Click here to read more about Gondwana Alive from Claudius van Wyk

The Middle Years

2002 (later):  CvW introduces JMA & Alex J Anderson (AJA).

2002:  Core group established to continue GA vision. Comprised: JMA, Francis Thackeray, Maarten de Wit, Alex J Anderson. This eventually dissolved.

  • Maarten de Wit established the first multi-disciplinary Earth Science Stewardship research unit called AEON. Currently based at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth.
  • MdW and JMA (wearing both AEON and GA hats) continued to produce scientific and educational publications and co-developed the ‘Africa Alive Corridors’ project.

2002-2008: AJA takes on leadership of GA

  • An office was established at Kirkwall House in Kommetjie, Cape Town and staff employed.
  • Explored innovative business model and approach to connect and promote biodiversity initiatives through a digital portal. Portal technology was still new at this time and achieving this objective proved difficult and too costly.
  • Promoted GA’s mission through development of a video and stakeholder engagement at lectures, conferences, and meetings with overseas international supporters of GA.
  • JMA and MdW launched the ‘Africa Alive’ Project at UNESCO’s International Year of Planet Earth symposium in Arusha, Tanzania (2008). Africa Alive Corridors is later recognized as one of two legacy projects emerging from IYPE.

2009: AJA meets Tracey Phillips (TP).

  • TP develops new business plan for GA. Implementation was contingent on registration of GA as a Non-Profit Company and securing operating capital.
  • TP meets with JMA and Adv. Francois Junod in Pretoria. They support the business plan and registration of the Company.
  • Francois Junod expresses the need to complement GA’s educational publications with grassroots action.
  • Founding Directors were identified and GA registered as a Non-Profit Company and tax exempt Public Benefit Organization.
  • Directors included AJA, JMA, Richard Cock, Tracey Phillips, Craig Guthrie, Jennifer Anderson, Marijke Anderson.
  • AJA builds GA relationship with Grootvadersbosch Conservancy.
  • JMA continues work on the Africa Alive Corridors

Click here to read more about Dr Tracey Phillips 

2010-2014: The Non-Profit Company begins operations

  • AJA elected as Chairperson
  • TP volunteers to run GA.
  • AJA donates to support the implementation of a Coastal Stewardship project.
  • Following this first project, regular grants were secured to implement projects.
  • AJA suggests TP aligns her other work activities with GA where appropriate.
  • GA proceeds on this basis
  • AJA and TP meet regularly and AJA continues visits with overseas contacts and potential support groups.

2014 -2016:

  • AJA is under increasing pressure from other responsibilities.
  • TP remains committed.
  • Founding members Jenny Anderson, Marijke Anderson and Craig Guthrie resign to make room for new Directors but remain supportive of GA.
  • Kas Hamman and Ivan Groenhof are registered as new GA Directors.
  • AJA makes a substantial donation towards an ecosystem restoration project run by the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy.

The Last 5 Years


  • AJA exits GA.
  • GA continues with TP at the helm.


  • GA continues to grow and secure grants to implement projects.
  • TP distills lessons from GA’s projects and her previous experience to develop a GrowGreen sustainable livelihood mentor training process and workbook.
  • JMA continues work on Africa Alive Corridors.
  • GA’s growth limited without a capital reserve.

2021-2022:  TP initiates discussions “What does next-generation GA look like?” 


  • Kas Hamman resigns due to other commitments and to make room for transformation.

    • Zoom meeting (of Directors); Tracey Phillips, John Anderson, Richard Cock, Ivan Groenhof.
    • Seeking a new way forward – removing limitations with a capital reserve and diversified team, rolling out.
    • GA, AEON Earth Science Stewardship Research Institute and !Khwa ttu indigenous San Heritage Centre submit a joint application for the Earthshot Prize – rolling out our knowledge to stewardship to reversal of extinction solution along Africa Alive Corridors.