Tracks of Giants: Flights 1 and 2 of 2012

Apr 28, 2012

MISSIONS  08 and 10 of  2012

Name of Mission: Tracks of Giants: Flights 1 and 2 of 2012
Date of Mission: 29 April and 11 May 2012
Aircraft used: Cessna 208 Caravan and Cessna 206        
Pilot: Nico Louw      
Beneficiary: The Tracks of Giants Project   

The objective of the flights:

To transport key personnel (the logistics manager, the expedition leader, and the film-maker) from Windhoek Airport to Purros, and from Opuwo to Cape Town airport.

Background to the “Tracks of Giants” project:

The TRACKS OF GIANTS (TRACKS) project is an initiative of the Wilderness Foundation and Wilderness Leadership School, a highly respected and much awarded environmental non-profit organisation of more than 50 years standing in southern Africa, which seeks to partner with key government and other organisations in each of the countries that will be traversed.

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TRACKS is a field-based, nature conservation expedition taking place over five months (from May to September 2012). Travelling on foot, mountain bicycle, mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) and kayak, the journey will follow ancient elephant clusters and migration routes through six countries – Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.  The expedition begins on 1st May 2012 on the Atlantic coast of Namibia, and ends in early September 2012 at the Indian Ocean in South Africa.

TRACKS seeks to involve government, local conservancies, guides and “giants” of conservation in each country, to work together and travel on foot and on bicycles across this amazing landscape, whilst at the same time learning more about themselves, the country and its sustainable future. The expedition will investigate numerous practical objectives, and create an effective public communications programme.

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While drawing attention to the plight of wild animals, our top priority is to highlight conservation strategies and the conservation success stories of local (home countries) conservation and environmental “giants” – individual and organisational – who are already dealing with issues surrounding the animal–human interface.  

Two Bateleurs-supported flights took place on 19 April 2012, in a Cessna 208 Caravan, and again on 11 May 2012, in a Cessna 206, flown by one of our three pilot members in Namibia, Nico Louw.

The report below was prepared by Vance Martin, CO of the Wilderness Foundation (USA), who participated in the first leg of this epic journey.

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Beneficiary’s report by             Vance Martin of the Wilderness Foundation (USA)

“Thank you very much to The Bateleurs for the assistance you so generously provided for Tracks of Giants. I was on Nico’s flight to Purros on 29 April. Because of my schedule, without this flight I would have been unable to participate in TRACKS, and the same was true for Nick Chevalier, the film-maker for the project.

After a week with the team, including a 4-day trek across the Skeleton Coast, 86 kms at temperatures between 44 and 46 C, I was very pleased with this conservation mission.  TRACKS has already begun, in a significant manner, to:

  • Document conservation issues such as human-wildlife interaction/conflict, and other issues (improperly authorised entrance into protected areas, beach damage by illegal vehicles) etc.; and
  • Record/video, in the first week alone, intensive interviews with five local conservationists, detailing the issues from ground level and, most importantly, constructing a chronicle of how conservation is succeeding in Africa. I think this is very important, because so much popular media is interested only in “Africa failure” stories, or glossy nature shows. TRACKS is documenting real-life issues, challenges, and accomplishments.

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I am now reporting on both TRACKS and the role of The Bateleurs in it.  See my various blogs and fuller sets of images on  HYPERLINK “http://www.tracksofgiants.org” www.tracksofgiants.org, for example this extract on this page “http://tracksofgiants.org/field-notes/getting-readyhttp://tracksofgiants.org/field-notes/getting-ready.  Next morning, early 29 April, I met Sharon McCallum (wife of Tracks co-leader Ian McCallum) and Tessa van Schalk (partner of co-leader Ian Michler), Nick Chevalier (film-maker/cameraman) and Nico, the pilot of a light aircraft and a volunteer member of The  Bateleurs – Flying for the Environment in Africa). Nico ferried us 2 hours NW to the sandy airstrip at Purros in Namibia’s Kunene Region.

Again, many thanks to The Bateleurs. Your decision to support TRACKS is a key element in this important, timely, and historic mission.”

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