Around SA's national parks in 80 days for rhino awareness

2015-09-22 18:32

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Cape Town - A Port Elizabeth businessman with a passion for conservation plans to cycle 6 000km between all of the country's 19 national parks to drive home the point that ordinary citizens can do great things for wildlife.

Wayne Bolton, 49, expects his mountain bike trip will take about 80 days. His aim is to raise awareness about the plight of rhino and other wildlife.

Managers at the 19 reserves will be asked to sign a “scroll of unity in conservation”.

Bolton will be self-sufficient, carrying a tent and mattress to set up on the road along the way.

“I am relying on the goodwill of people if I can’t find a spot in the bush somewhere. I really have got a very positive outlook towards our country and people. That is part of the adventure as well,” he told News24 on Tuesday.

“I am looking forward to meeting people along the way and have no doubt that I will come back very encouraged.”

The starting point - on November 28 - is the Pafuri Gate of the Kruger National Park. Bolton hopes to finish at the Addo Elephant National Park on February 13 next year.

Bolton said the idea for the expedition came to him while he was sitting in his “man cave” over the December holidays.

Raising awareness and funds

“You sit and think, ‘I would love to do this and that’, but there is always a reason not to do it and people wait to put things in order. You have to grab life with two hands.”

The goal of the expedition is to raise awareness and funds for the SA National Parks (SANParks) and the rhino orphanage Care for Wild Africa.

“I am hoping it inspires the ordinary South African to look at our country and say, ‘We only have one land and what am I doing as an individual?’. When the grassroots level starts to feel for conservation, then the collective voice is very strong.”

The adventure is truly a family affair.

His wife Nikki, his father and father-in-law will travel to the parks ahead of him. Their children Daniel, 22, and Laura, 19, who are studying at university, will cycle with him for a few legs.

“They will be cycling to show that the problem is not for just one generation but for all generations and it’s about passing on the mantle.”

Bolton has been training hard since the start of the year to build up muscle strength and to prepare mentally.

“I am very positive. At the same time, I am also nervous about it. I do have a strong determination.”

Read more on:    conservation  |  rhino poaching

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