“The last roll of the dice!”
This was one of the overriding themes at last night’s Africa Geographic reader event in Cape Town. Ian McCallum and Ian Michler attracted a large crowd to the Cape Union Mart Adventure Centre in Century City to hear about the duo’s epic Tracks of Giants expedition across southern Africa this year.
The two wilderness warriors began their trip in northern Namibia in April and travelled on foot, using mountain bikes, mekoro’s (traditional dugout canoes) and kayaks eastwards, through conservancies, national parks and transfrontier conservation areas – most notably, the new Kaza initiative, joining National Parks in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Tracks of Giants metaphor comes from the idea that elephants once roamed massive distances, unhindered by political boundaries. So the team were essentially following in their footsteps.
Charged with new-found passion and enthusiasm from their expedition, the Ians spoke of the huge importance of trans-frontier conservation areas for the future of Africa’s wild spaces. For those who don’t know, transfrontier parks are proclaimed conservation areas that stretch across borders and link important ecological corridors between countries.
“Animals don’t care for political boundaries, and neither do ecosystems,” Ian Michler passionately repeated while guiding the captivated audience through the highs and lows of the journey. “It’s the last roll of the dice for conservation in Africa.”
Tracks of Giants was designed and executed as a movement to create an understanding about the importance of big conservation areas for local communities and the world at large.
Ian McCallum believes the importance of these places stretches far beyond just the physical or economic benefits. Wilderness makes up an essential part of our physiology, says McCallum. “The establishment of ecological corridors contributes to a greater understanding of the benefits to both humans and animals.”
The two hope to produce a book, documentary and various newspaper and magazine articles to spread these important finding and messages.