An elephant still roams the Knysna forest in South Africa – she has been seen on rare occasions. About 500 kilometres east lies Addo Elephant National Park, a primary tourist destination and home to more than 600 elephants.
Not many people remember that these two elephant groups were once connected: just 200 hundred years ago, elephants moved freely between Knysna’s Garden of Eden and Addo. Human presence and settlements have put a stop to this migration path.
The NGO, Eden to Addo, has been working tirelessly since 2006 to make this migration a reality again. To undertake such epic work, Eden to Addo focuses on developing ecological corridors between existing protected areas: the Garden Route National Park, the Tsitsikamma National Park, the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site and Addo Elephant National Park.
Such corridors consist of privately-owned land: the agglomeration of landowner partners allows communication between these areas, thus enforcing biodiversity and ensuring ecological processes and connectivity for species. The organisation has already successfully developed corridors between the Garden Route National Park and the Robberg Peninsula and between the Tsitsikamma National Park and the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site. Current work is focusing on the Springbokvlakte, between the Baviaanskloof and the Addo Elephant National Park, where thousands of springboks used to roam.
The area Eden to Addo cares for is the most bio-diverse in the world: it includes five different biomes of South Africa’s seven. Among these, mistbelt forest might be one of the most fragile because of its fragmentation during European settlement. The fynbos biome also lies within the area and hosts over 9,000 plant species. The corridor includes the Nama Karoo and Succulent Karoo, offering the visitor a sensation of deep immersion in nature.
Such diversity makes the corridor a stunning area to see and hike in. Eden to Addo initiated an annual Great Corridor Hike in 2006 to raise funds and achieve its mission. It starts in the Garden Route and ends in the Addo Elephant National Park – 20 days and 450 kilometres later. This slack pack adventure allows you to witness Eden to Addo’s conservation work while experiencing beautiful wilderness areas, including those exclusive to Eden to Addo.
Hiking the Great Corridor is an opportunity not to be missed. It enforces the dedication of Eden to Addo’s work: protecting nature from Man’s impact without excluding him from his natural common heritage.
The next Eden to Addo hike is taking place from the 3rd to 23rd of September 2015. Find out more details here.
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