Duo’s rugged run for Vultures

2015-03-07 00:00

TWO men have raised nearly R17 000 for the Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project by completing a 60 km self-sustained trail run.

The best friends, Mark McTaggart (32) and Clive Cowie (30), started their two-day trek last week Saturday from Sani Pass and ran through to Bushman’s Nek in support of their favourite bird, the vulture.

The men, amateur runners, filled their backpacks with food, utensils and sleeping items before stretching their limbs and heading out under the rising sun.

The trail, commonly known as Giant’s Cup, is normally a six-day hike through treacherous rocky paths with overgrown bushes on either side and huts along the route for hikers to camp in.

“Three kilometres in I sprained my ankle after tripping over a rock, and just after that Clive’s knee packed up. It was tough going the rest of the way,” McTaggart said.

After covering most of the distance on the first day, they lodged themselves in an icy cold hut for the first night.

“There was no hot water and it was freezing that night. We ate pasta, rolls, sardines and other healthy proteins and oils,” McTaggart laughed.

After wrapping themselves in bandages and popping a few painkillers, they set out to a rainy final stretch on their second and final day. Inspired by vultures circling above, the men pushed through and completed the course.

“We were like two old men with the injuries we had,” Cowie said.

McTaggart and Cowie raised R16 850 through the “doit4charity” website and were swamped with supportive Facebook messages and calls throughout: “I’ve never been called ‘awesome’ so many times,” McTaggart said.

All proceeds will go to the Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project, which is dedicated to the conservation and management of the endangered Cape Vulture and the critically endangered Bearded Vulture in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains.

Project facilitator Sonja Krueger said she appreciated the pair’s “fantastic effort” to take on the initiative of their own accord.

She said the money collected would be used in monitoring and tracking vulture activity.

“Their population is declining at a rapid rate due to poisoning and getting caught in power lines,” said Krueger.

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