Three Scenic South locals, Ian & Sharon McCallum and Anton Kruyshaar, head for Namibia this week for the start of the epic Tracks of Giants journey to showcase conservation issues and successes across Southern Africa. The journey officially starts on 1 May at Rocky Point on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia and ends at Rocky Point Cape Vidal in South Africa. The visionaries behind Tracks of Giants, Ian McCallum and Ian Michler plan to walk, cycle and canoe 5000km to reach Cape Vidal in early September. They are supported by back-up team members Frank Raimondo and Anton Kruyshaar in Frank’s land cruizer and John Frankiskos and Mandla Buthelezi in a 4×4 donated by Avis. Sharon McCallum, the logistics manager will be joining the team at stages along the way. (Pictured on the LHS are Ian & Sharon McCallum, Frank Raimondo and Anton Kruyshaar in the early hours about to drive to Namibia for the start of Tracks for Giants. Read about the core team members at the end of the article.)
The Route and the Reason – Elephant Tracks and Conservation Giants.
In keeping with their vision of showcasing the connections between man and nature in Southern Africa, Ian McCallum and Ian Michler will follow the elephant migration routes that traversed sections of the sub continent. These ancient routes overlap and cross national boundaries as they link the seasonal grazing and watering points of various elephant communities. The tracks of giants will guide the team through 6 countries: Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. Highlighting the significance of eco-corridors for elephants is one of the foci of Tracks for Giants. In Ian McCallum’s words “If we can’t manage something as big as an elephant, how will we manage the small stuff?” Showcasing the conservation success stories and the unsung heroes and conservation giants whose work is saving habitats and key species is the second foci of this journey.
The Tracks of Giants is likely to be a journey of personal discovery for the participants. Click here for links to the Tracks of Giants facebook and their website share in some of their experiences or send messages of support. Click here to watch the Tracks of Giants Video by Michael Raimondo of Green Renaissance.
Team and back-up members
For Ian McCallum, the journey is about listening to and telling the stories of the people involved in conservation along their route. At a talk held at the Upper Crust Restaurant in Marina da Gama to tell friends about Tracks of Giants, Ian explained how he is fascinated with the psychology of conservation. “Why landscapes are so strongly linked to individual human identity and the importance of wildlife for human spiritual welfare.” As a well known wildlife poet and psychiatrist Ian is a voice for wildlife. “All living things are bound by the common language of DNA, but people need to speak out for animals.” And he does. Some of his more recent poems form part of the Untamed exhibition at Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town and are also available in his new anthology `Untamed’.
Ian Michler has shared the dream with Ian McCallum of a journey along ancient animal routes for 10 years. He is a wilderness guide, photojournalist, researcher for TV documentaries and naturalist who has lived and worked in Africa for the past 22 years. He is well known for documenting some of the major conservation challenges facing Africa in the Africa Geographic, Africa Birds and Birding magazines and has written natural history and travel books on various African countries. Prior to choosing the wilderness as a career he was a stockbroker. Now he is based in the Garden Route and is co-owner of Invent Africa, a specialist safari company.
For the youngest member, my 20 year old son Anton Kruyshaar, the journey started when he was invited to join the team for a few weeks as back-up driver and camp hand. He leapt at the opportunity to make his GAP year into a year of life changing experience. Whether it was the energy and interest that he invested in every new task from bicycle maintenance to camera support or his promise that he can bake an awesome chocolate cake on the campfire, but it was not long before he was offered a full place on the team.
Frank Raimondo from Cape Town, like most of the team members is multi talented. As a retired engineer and an experienced hand in the wild he brings a much needed combination of organizational skills and 4×4 know how to the team. He is a trustee of the Wilderness Foundation, the organisation supporting Tracks of Giants and when he found out about the project, he immediately offered the services of himself and his vehicle.
I commented to Sharon McCallum that as logistics manager I thought her role in Tracks of Giants must be the most challenging part of the journey – to which she just responded with her wonderful warm laugh.
John Frankiskos from Durban is a retired engineer and is in charge of the second support vehicle, sponsored by Avis. Getting 4 bikes to the start of the first leg of the cycling section in the Kaokoveld, Namibia was one of the many logistical challenges. John designed and built a customised roof rack to transport the four bikes.
Mandla Buthelezi is a qualified chief guide with the Wilderness Leadership School and will be a co-driver with John and back-up team member.
The Scenic South wishes them all the journey of a lifetime. Learn, grow, be safe, have fun and please share your journey with us and our readers.
26 April 2012
In the Tracks of Giants by Ian McCallum from his Untamed collection of poems.
To walk in the wake of elephants,
to be small in a world of giants,
to learn the spoor of silence,
and the deep rumbling eloquence
To move in the skin of elephants,
to feel the alliance of sand,
the contours of land
and the far reaching pull
To be alive to the sway of elephants,
to remember the songs of seasons,
the ancient lines of migrations,
and loosen your reasons
To wake up to the web of intelligence,
to the wild origins of sentience,
to find your voice and raise, it,
that others may raise theirs