KZN SanParks Honorary Ranger Grant Melville, mountaineer Ian Shooter and his assistant Jeffery Mthabela are going to be hiking/ climbing the Drakensberg Grand Traverse to raise funds towards the K9 anti-poaching units. They will be staring the trek on the 25th of May 2017.
Grant Melville is intent on making a direct contribution to nature conservation, and initiated the trek for the K9 anti-poaching units.
Ian Shooter is registered with the South African Mountaineering Development & Training Trust as an Advanced Mountain Leader. He has 35 years of hiking experience.
Jeffery Mthabela has worked as Ian’s assistant on mountain hikes for the past 13 years. Jeffery has a keen interest in keeping the Drakensberg pristine. He wants to inform people about how important it is to protect this mountain range. He lives within the Mnweni valley in between Royal Natal National park and Cathedral peak. This is the only part of the whole Drakensberg mountain range that is tribally owned.
The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is a 230 km hike along the escarpment of the pristine and remote Drakensberg Mountain Range in South Africa. It shares a border with Lesotho. The hike has no predetermined routes or even trails. It requires the ascent of at least five of the spectacular ridges and summits along the way. Pending weather, the hike takes 12-15 days.
The dogs are taught how to immobilize a suspected poacher, whether on foot or in a vehicle. They are excellent trackers. They can find carcasses in the field, and detect firearms, ammunition and wildlife products at the park entry gates.
The K9 unit will use any funds raised towards a rat-proof dog food store, equipment and supplies for the veterinary clinic at the K9 Centre. An obstacle training course for the dogs, additional K9 medical trauma kits, tracking/GPS harnesses for each dog and two extra runs for dogs at the centre.
The cost of the daily operations of the K9 Centre that trains and keeps the K9 units fit and healthy is around R 1.5 million per year – which exceeds the budget available to SANParks. The items listed above total R 1.3 million. We are hoping to raise R 500,000 through donations and sponsorships of the Climb for K9 – Drakensberg Grand Traverse.