PE man's 6 000km cycling expedition for nature conservation nears completion
Port Elizabeth businessman and family man, Wayne Bolton, 49, of One Land Love It (OLLI), is nearing the end of his 6 000km, 80-day cycling expedition - having already covered more than 5 000km and visited 16 out of the country's 19 national parks to date.
Bolton, who has been cycling since the 28th of November 2015, is expected to arrive at the gate of the Addo Elephant National Park (the only park to boast the 'Bbig 7') on Saturday, the 13th of February. His journey began at the Pafuri gate of the Kruger National Park.
Bolton is also inviting anybody, who wants to join him as he finishes to meet him at Addo Elephant National Park Main Camp on Saturday, at 12:00am. He will be cycling in and leaving Paterson at 10:00am being escorted by support vehicles. Kingsley Holgate, renowned adventurer, will be in attendance and has invited all nature enthusiasts to be part of this finale. Entrance to the park is R58 for South African nationals. Bring a picnic and enjoy some time in the park.
"Cycling to connect ordinary South Africans to our National Parks, and to connect each park in a symbol of unity, he and other like-minded conservationists are co-signing the Scroll of Unity in Conservation at the gate to each park," described his wife, Nikki Bolton, in a statement.
"This symbol of unity is timely in our country whose tourism livelihood is under pressure and is a call to each of us to be proactive as individuals and in so doing to show our love for our land and heritage."
While the temperature started high at the Kruger National Park when Bolton began his journey - and have peaked above 50 degrees Celcius as he has travelled the arid regions of the Northern Cape, this ordinary adventurer has gone beyond where he thought he could and achieved more than he expected.
"For this African summer, the heat is on and it shows just what any one of us can do when we decide it is time," Nikki said.
"It was such determination by our forefathers that established the National Parks as an inheritance for us. Each of the South African National Parks (SANParks) has unique features that they celebrate. From geological finds to large game, from two oceans (the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at Agulhas National Park) to annual displays of flowers and those that are part of the fastest growing desert in the world (The Namib Desert) where you can view animals as they adapt to their environment.
"SANParks showcases a variety of our natural and cultural heritage in close proximity that you will find nowhere else on Earth."
Bolton has also had the pleasure of cycling along remote roads in wild and beautiful countryside teeming with life and had the occasional race against warthogs and ostrich. This journey involves a personal connection with the environment and brings home the value of our diverse natural heritage and the need to conserve it.
The SANParks that have been visited so far include: Kruger, Mapungubwe, Marakele, Golden Gate Highlands, Mokala, Augrabies Falls, Kgalagadi Transfronteir Park, Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Namaqua, Tankwa Karoo, West Coast, Table Mountain, Agulhas, Bontebok, and Garden Route. He is on the home stretch to visit the last four parks: Karoo, Camdeboo, Mountain Zebra and Addo Elephant National Park.
Ordinary South Africans Get Involved
"Along the route many establishments have heard of this adventurer and his support crew and have offered beds and food: vital to the success of the expedition. Some have even offered little extras such as a walk with elephants," Nikki said.
"People along the journey have shown great interest and support. Rangers at the South African National Parks (SANParks) have been inspired and supportive."
Patrick Cromwell, the founder of Awesome South Africans, is one such person. He said that he "saw Wayne cycling and wanted to show support. So, I raced home to get my motorcycle to escort him through Cape Town to Table Mountain National Park. By the time I caught up to him again he was nearly there.
"His commitment and fitness are amazing and what he is doing to raise awareness for poaching and rehabilitation is awesome. This is why I have nominated Wayne as an Awesome South African.”
On one of his stops to replenish his water supply, Bolton registered an eyebrow raising 59'C. SANParks Rangers at the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, who understand the impact of temperature, wind and topography are “amazed that he is taking on such a challenge under those conditions”, so Section Ranger Micho Ferreira and his rangers showered encouragement and appreciation for Mr Bolton's efforts.
Section Ranger Nardus du Plessis showed his support by joining a 20km cycle with Bolton on his pre-dawn exit from Augrabies Falls National Park and rangers at Karoo National Park escorted him on his arrival and departure from the Park – along with the local traffic police.
"It has been argued that the South African National Parks Rangers stand more chance of experiencing an armed conflict (engaging poachers) than the National Defence Force," Nikki said.
"This shocking piece of information puts into perspective just how serious the poaching 'issue' is in South Africa. If ordinary people, like Wayne and his family, don't participate in this war in support of our National Parks then the very real prospect of extinction faces large species such as rhino, elephant and lion. Therefore the first beneficiary is these noble rangers who are on the front line."
She said that incidents involving orphaned baby rhinos have increased as poaching has escalated.
"It takes special dedication of up to 18 months to rehabilitate just one of these magnificent and threatened, creatures. Care for Wild Africa is one such centre that works hand in hand with the South African National Parks veterinarians and to ensure that these babies are 'counselled', fed, trained and rehabilitated for reintroduction into the wild. These are ordinary people doing something extraordinary and they need our support."
Currently the Scroll of Unity in Conservation, a pledge signed by SANParks representatives has been proudly signed by 16 of the 19 National Parks. Bolton will continue to link all of the Parks and the staff who carry the responsibility of maintaining the integrity of our natural heritage.
Donating to beneficiaries or expedition costs is easy. Find out how to donate here: www.oneland.co.za/donate.
Any donations can be made at the link provided either through One Land Love It or directly to the beneficiaries (we just ask that you acknowledge OLLI as your inspiration so that we know the reach of our message).
A Final Message from Wayne Bolton:
“We are all ordinary people. The silence or lack of action from 'good people' has led to a qualified 1175 rhino poaching incidents in 2015. Ordinary people can and should make a positive contribution to conserving our natural heritage. It starts at home.
"As individual beings, our focus is often on our own personal and immediate problems in life yet it could be argued that as a collective, one of the most important priorities for the human race should be that which sustains us as a species, the environment. In many ways, we have paid little attention to this – the environment is “hidden in plain sight” – and out of sight, out of mind. We need to attain an environmental consciousness.
This expedition is an exercise in #JointCustody. The success of our journey would not be possible without the support of my family, our sponsors who make the expedition possible, and ordinary people making the conservation of our natural heritage possible. Thank you to each and every one of you.”
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