Update: 8 June – They Made It!!! – SANParks Honorary Rangers KwaZulu Natal Region supports the Climb for K9

Update:  8 June

THEY MADE IT!!!

After a fantastic send-off on 25 May from the Phuthaditjhaba (Witsieshoek) in Free State, the Climb for K9 expedition scaled the Chain Ladders and summited the 3000m+ Mont aux Sources and Stimela Peaks within the first 3 days.  They proceeding towards Champagne Castle, and scaled Mafadi, Giant’s Castle and finally the Thabana Ntlenyana, which literally means “Beautiful little mountain” in Sesotho. This is the highest point in Lesotho and the highest mountain in southern Africa and still had deep snow in places. Having hiked completely unassisted, the hikers arrived at Sani Mountain Lodge for a much needed first and only re-supply of food and gear on Day 10. Three of the four men – Grant Melville, Jeffery Mthabela and Robert Schmidt then proceeded for the final – long – leg from Sani Top to Bushman’s Nek. Having lost their map, they ended up in a gully that required a bit of technical climbing before finally starting the descent down the Boesman’s Nek pass towards the SA Border Post.

The expedition cut it fine, arriving only after dark on 06 June, having completed the final 42km in only 2 days. The Climb for K9 – Drakensberg Grand Traverse had been freezing cold, exhausting, and full of challenges, but in Grant Melville’s words also “a magnificent privilege to explore these remote and pristine mountains.” At the Finish Line event, the Climbers for K9 were presented with the special edition SANParks K9 medallions for exceptional support to the SANParks K9 anti-poaching Unit. Speaking at the celebration, Grant Melville emphasized the bigger picture: the important work being done by the anti-poaching K9 Unit to safeguard the wildlife in our national parks, which is under heavy threat from poachers.

The Climb for K9 campaign continues with the aim to raise awareness about the need to protect our natural heritage – and to raise funds for the SANParks counter-poaching Canine (K9) Unit that has become a game changer in the war on poaching. Making sure that all K9 units are fit and healthy, well trained and equipped for their dangerous job is a huge and ongoing challenge. SANParks has a limited budget, and the SANPark’s K9 “wish list” is long.

The Climb for K9 – Drakensberg Grand Traverse has so far raised R79 000 to meet the needs of the K9s – and we hope that more people will support the campaign by donating on https://www.givengain.com/cause/2552/campaigns/17669/  or by EFT to SANParks Honorary Rangers NEDBANK account no. 1585 392 448, Branch code 158550. Please use the reference: “your name.KZN-DGT.K9”  to enable us to keep track of contributions and send a copy of your deposit slip to ClimbforK9@gmail.com A huge thank you to all supporters who donate to help the SANParks counter-poaching K9 unit to become even more effective.

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During MAY 25 – JUNE 5, 2017 three seasoned hikers, Grant Melville of Umhlanga, Ian Shooter from Pietermaritzburg and Jeffery Mthabela who has lived his whole life in the Mnweni valley of the Drakensberg, will attempt the 230 km Drakensberg Grand Traverse in support of the SANParks K9 Units.

Update:  3 June 2017

And today on Day 10 of the #climbfork9, hiker Grant Melville solo scaled the highest peak in Southern Africa: Thabana Ntlenyana – even with a broken boot!! Unfortunately the wind got the better of the audio – but you get the picture. Now its DOWN to Sani Pass (still 2874m ASL!!) for the Resupply tomorrow. Give it up for Grant and please support https://www.givengain.com/cause/2552/campaigns/17669/

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UPDATE:  2 June 2017

The Climb for K9 – Drakensberg Grand Traverse expedition is making good progress! They reached Mont aux Sources on Day 1, and proceeded to Stimela Peak and took a quick dip in the Senqu River. They have passed the Vulture Colony and summited Cleft Peak on Day 3, encountering snow, and then overnighted in Roland’s Cave – in heavy fog.
Yesterday, the Climbers scaled the mighty Mafadi and today, they are at 180km, making their way between Giant’s Castle and the Langilabele Pass towards Sani Pass, where we will meet them for the first and only Re-supply on Sunday. It’s been tough going, but the team is in good spirits, despite a broken boot and a leaking air mattress. Undoubtedly, a good meal at Sani Mountan Lodge will be very welcome on Sunday!

Support for the Climb for K9 - Drakensberg Grand Traverse

 

During MAY 25 – JUNE 5, 2017 three seasoned hikers, Grant Melville of Umhlanga, Ian Shooter from Pietermaritzburg and Jeffery Mthabela who has lived his whole life in the Mnweni valley of the Drakensberg, will attempt the 230 km Drakensberg Grand Traverse in support of the SANParks K9 Units.

If you can help, please donate to our secure GivenGain page: https://www.givengain.com/cause/2552/campaigns/17669/ or by EFT to the SANParks Honorary Rangers NEDBANK account no. 1585 392 448, Branch code 158550. Please use the reference: “your name.KZN-DGT.K9” to enable us to keep track of contributions and send a copy of your deposit slip to ClimbforK9@gmail.com (the ‘here’ mentioned in the article above is due to hyperlinks).

Grant has 15 years of hiking and bush experience, gained in part from being a SANParks Honorary Ranger since 2012. Ian is a qualified guide with 35 years of hiking experience in the Drakensberg, and Jeffery has been his assistant for 13 years. They will traverse the mountain range unassisted, with only one re-supply at the Sani Pass. The expedition will set off from the Phuthaditjhaba (Witsieshoek) Sentinel car park in Free State on 25 May at 9 am.

Support for the Climb for K9 - Drakensberg Grand Traverse

The route takes them over the 3000m+ peaks of Mont Aux Sources, Champagne Castle and Mafadi – the highest peak in South Africa – and Giant’s Castle, before they descent through Thamathu Pass to Bushmans Nek Hotel near Underberg.

The Drakensberg is vitally important as one of the main water catchment areas that feed KZN rivers and the Orange River system in South Africa. We need to look after this mountain range to protect our water source and the wildlife that lives there. Wildlife is under threat all over South Africa. We are hiking to raise awareness about the plight of our rhino and elephant populations, and all the other animals killed by poachers in our national parks – and to demonstrate what can be done to counter this threat: SANParks are fighting back with the support of the SANParks Honorary Rangers.

 

Support for the Climb for K9 - Drakensberg Grand Traverse

 

Since 2012, specially trained canine (K9) units have reinforced the efforts to combat rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park and beyond – and they are making a difference: In 2016 for the first time, the number of rhino killed in the Kruger National Park was less than the year before, while the number of arrests of poachers doubled. K9 units were involved in 90% of these arrests.

As the commander of the overall, coordinated counter-poaching war in the Kruger National Park remarked: “the dogs have been a game changer.” Fifty-two dogs and their handlers are on duty in the Kruger National Park right now. The K9 Units are deployed by helicopters, vehicles, and on foot, to patrol our national parks and deter, track down and help arrest poachers to protect our wildlife. They work in remote and pristine areas, often unassisted – just as we will be on our hike.

Support for the Climb for K9 - Drakensberg Grand Traverse

The Climb for K9 is supported by the SANParks Honorary Rangers, KZN Region. We hope to spur your interest in the protection and conservation of our precious wildlife heritage, and to raise funds for the continued upkeep and training of the SANParks K9 Units. Contact us at ClimbforK9@gmail.com for more information.

Contribute to the upkeep of the K9 Units in the Kruger National Park by donating here, using the reference: “your name.KZN-DGT.K9” to enable us to keep track of contributions. All sponsors will be acknowledged for their contributions.
All proceeds from this event will be used to support the SANParks Project Watchdog; the overall campaign for the SANParks K9 units.

You can also follow the guys on twitter @ClimbforK9

Traversing the Drakensberg
Three men – on foot, un-assisted
For the love of Nature
For the need to conserve and protect it
In support of the Sanparks K9 Units that:
– protect our wildlife
– fight rhino and elephant poaching
– make a difference
– need our support

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3 Responses to Update: 8 June – They Made It!!! – SANParks Honorary Rangers KwaZulu Natal Region supports the Climb for K9

  1. Lene Hansen May 25, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    Hi Climbers!!

    Thanks so much for featuring our 230km Climb for K9 -Drakensberg Grand Traverse, which launched this morning from Witsiehoek, Free State. We’re aiming at having 2 000 people donate 1 rand per km during the expedition. If you can help, please donate to our secure GivenGain page: https://www.givengain.com/cause/2552/campaigns/17669/ or by EFT to the SANParks Honorary Rangers NEDBANK account no. 1585 392 448, Branch code 158550. Please use the reference: “your name.KZN-DGT.K9” to enable us to keep track of contributions and send a copy of your deposit slip to ClimbforK9@gmail.com (the ‘here’ mentioned in the article above is due to hyperlinks).
    We will give a big shout-out to all who contribute!! Please help us raise funds for the anti-poaching K9 Unit that does such an amazing job protecting our wildlife! Thanks for your support!

  2. Justin Lawson May 26, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    Pics from yesterday of the morning launch at Witsiehoek.

    Support for the Climb for K9 - Drakensberg Grand Traverse

    Team for the Climb for K9 - Drakensberg Grand Traverse

  3. Lene Hansen May 28, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    Hey all,

    On Day 4 of the Climb for K9 – Drakensberg Grand Traverse, the expeidtion has reached Cleft Peak. It’s rough going, there is snow, and ice on the rivers – but the Climbers for K9 are in good spirits. It’s Grants birthday today! See photos from their traverse @climbfork9 and on instagram: climbfork9

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