Extreme adventurer and conservationist, Braam Malherbe, will join fellow conservationists, avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in November on the WESSA Wild Walk – a spectacular journey along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape that aims to examine environmental issues and appreciate the spectacular biodiversity and ecology of the region.
The WESSA Wild Walk, which is being held for the fourth year in succession, will set off from the Wild Coast Sun hotel on 15 November 2014 and head along the Pondoland coastal belt to arrive in Bulungula on 28 November, having covered a total distance of 200km.
No stranger to “going the distance” for WESSA, Malherbe’s affiliation with the organisation goes back to the 1970s when he ran 532km from Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town in 11 days to raise funds for WESSA’s conservation work aimed at protecting the Langebaan Lagoon. For this remarkable effort he was Awarded Life Membership of the organisation and he has served as a patron of WESSA since 2011.
The special message that Braam Malherbe hopes to communicate through his participation in the Wild Walk is one of the interconnectedness of life and of the need for us all to re-connect with the wilderness, both without and within.
“As humans, we need to maintain our connection with nature and appreciate our role in preserving our natural heritage for future generations – the WESSA Wild Walk plays a vital role in highlighting the need to conserve the environmentally fragile Wild Coast in collaboration with local communities,” says Malherbe.
Malherbe is also using the opportunity of the WESSA Wild Walk to renew his call for everyone to “DOT” – Do One Thing. “You can support WESSA and its conservation initiatives by obtaining a MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet Card and choosing WESSA as a beneficiary,” he says, “It doesn’t cost a cent and every time you visit participating retailers you contribute to conservation through your purchases.”
The Wild Coast is justifiably renowned for its natural beauty, serenity and rich culture. It is, however, also subjected to ever increasing socio-ecological threats. WESSA has a long history as a hands-on conservation agency in the region, supporting communities in conserving their rich natural heritage by implementing a wide range of projects – these reduce pressures on natural resources by investing in education, providing employment, helping to set up micro-enterprises, and improving people’s livelihoods through water and food security initiatives. WESSA also plays an active role in bringing stakeholders together to tackle difficult conservation issues.
What sets the WESSA Wild Walk apart from other walks on the Wild Coast is the depth of knowledge that WESSA has to offer to participants on the conservation needs of the area. The 2014 walk will have a strong focus on endemism, or species that are unique to the area. Pondoland is internationally recognised as a hotspot of plant endemism as it is home to an important contribution to our planet’s botanical biodiversity.
Apart from being an opportunity for hikers to celebrate the Wild Coast’s biodiversity and to experience one of the most spectacular, dynamic and diverse coastal environments on earth, the trail is also designed as a rich learning experience. Hikers will be able to see, first-hand, the results of forest restoration and other conservation work being done in the area.
Participants will also be encouraged to use the opportunity to raise money towards the WESSA Ntsubane Forest Complex project via the “Do it 4 Charity” online fundraising platform. On the first leg of the trail hikers will have a chance to see the forest where the conservation work is being done and to meet people from the project user group.
Hikers will also be rewarded with an ever active ocean and with the high probability of witnessing whale migrations, natural dolphin behaviours and other offshore activities.
The trail is comprised of three multi-day stages, each of which will be professionally guided and fully supported by a backup team. Hikers have flexibility in choosing their preferred hiking duration (7 days, 5 days or 2 days), their accommodation options and which section of the diverse coastal geography they would like to experience. For more information about the WESSA Wild Walk 2014, which will take place between 15 and 28 November 2014, visit www.wessa.org.za.