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Africa Geographic Travel

Written by: Steven Entwistle

By chance I saw the book Elephant whisperer by Lawrence Anthony in an airport lounge. I felt a strong urge to buy it and it turned out to be one of the best things I ever did – it has changed my life for the better. I read the book cover to cover and then visited Thula Thula Game reserve in Zululand, thinking it would be a great break and also a good opportunity to check it out as a wedding venue.

Mabula-at-Thula-Thula-1

There was something unique and special about Thula Thula game reserve. After that weekend we decided to set our wedding at the game reserve which was by far the best decision we ever made. After leaving Thula Thula something in our hearts and in our souls had been touched by the South African bush; the scents, the sounds and of course the elephants and rhinos that inhabit this magical place.

Air-field-at-Thula-Thula

Having read this book and experiencing Thula Thula, I decided I had to do more to help raise funds and awareness for wildlife in South Africa. As an outdoor enthusiast I decided to plan some endurance events to raise funds for the Lawrence Anthony Earth OrganisationLast year I ran along the beach from Durban Harbour to Tongaat – 46 kms over a 6 hour period. The funds raised were used for educational material that was distributed around the rural settlements outside game reserves. This leaflet assisted in the education of the local communities about the natural wealth and heritage that belongs to us all and how we must protect it.

Last year I spoke to Francoise about their initiative to build the first and only rhino rehabilitation centre in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, and their need for funds. I walked away wondering how can I help? What unique fundraising event could I do to help this worthy cause?

Rhinos-at-Thula-Thua-sunset

Having served in the British Royal Navy for 14 years, four years of which as a mine clearance diver, and now working offshore as a saturation deep sea diver doing under water construction of pipelines between oil rigs, I was unsure of how I could use my skills to help wildlife. So I came up with the crazy idea to walk over the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban wearing the standard diving dress of the early 1900s diver, weighing 70 kgs. This includes a Siebi Gorman diving helmet, circa 1900s, weighing 21 kgs, chest and back weights and lead soled diving boots. This event will be mentally and physically demanding and shall take me around 3-4 hours to complete.

Standard-diving-dress-Seibi-gorman Weighted-lead-boots-10-kgs Siebi-gorman-6-bolt-admiralty-patern-diving-helmet Chest-and-Back-weights-10-kgs-each

I shall walk around the outside of the stadium from the Sky Cart to the base of the arch where I shall walk up the 106m high arch and the 500 steps to the top of the stadium. After taking a few minutes to enjoy the 360º view of Durban from the top of the stadium, I will make my way down on the Sky Cart to finish the challenge. It sounds like hard work and it will be hard work.

stadium durban-stadium stadium-in-durban

I plan to do the walk on the 21st of May 2014. I have started a training routine to build up my leg muscles and shoulders. My training routine of 2-3hrs per day entails skipping, walking up and down stairs with 70 kgs on my back, squats, press ups and swimming for cardio vascular and breathing techniques.

My reason for doing this is so that I can raise funds for the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization to help build the first rhino rehabilitation centre in Zululand, along with much needed awareness for the plight of our rhinos and elephants.

Rhinos-at-Thula-Thua-tented-camp

Sometimes you have to do something a little different to get people’s attention. Come along and watch this mad Englishman shuffling along at a snail’s pace, while you eat at one of the many restaurants at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

stadium-moses

You can follow my efforts via Facebook or can show your support by donating on the website. You can also go on to the Thula Thula website and donate there, also using the “Diver” reference option.

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