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Saving rhinos through extreme sport

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Saving rhinos by way of excessive sport

Because the Covid-19 pandemic paralysed various industries throughout the nation, one man took his love for excessive sports activities and put it to glorious use. After spending a while on the Kariega Personal Recreation Reserve throughout the December holidays, excessive sports activities fanatic Jamie Marais couldn’t cease excited about the scenario the Japanese Cape primarily based safari park could also be in. After making contact, Jamie determined to lift cash for the Kariega Basis by doing one thing unimaginable – driving his bicycle by way of the park for 36 hours and 337 km. – Jarryd Neves


The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced out the worst of predatory South African politicians, however because the Director of the Kariega Foundation, Lindy Sutherland describes it, it additionally creates a shift within the focus of many individuals on what they’ll do for others.  

Certainly one of them is Capetonian excessive athlete Jamie Marais, who teamed up with the Kariega Basis to push himself by way of excessive discomfort and threat to scale a mountain a number of instances and he turned the one identified individual to cycle a vertical ascent of 9,000 metres, which is the peak of Mount Everest within the Kariega non-public recreation reserve, over 36 gruelling hours in the midst of the Cape winter. 

The goal was to lift cash for endangered rhinos and to feed the native inhabitants across the reserve.  The poaching of rhinos in South Africa has dropped by 50% throughout the first half of the yr because of the Covid-19 pandemic, in response to authorities figures, from 316 in 2019 to 166 within the first half of 2020, however it’s feared that poaching will decide up once more as lockdowns are eased and borders re-open. Jamie Marais advised BizNews about his quest to assist the rhinos and the starvation that he believes, fuels the poaching of rhinos.

I at all times develop a chat after I’ve finished a loopy file try or an extremely endurance factor. To cite Lindy Sutherland, “For me, it’s about what Covid-19 is creating on the planet. A shift to individuals turning into extra targeted on what they’ll do for different individuals.” 

I feel that was actually the idea of this entire venture. I used to be having a glass of wine sitting in my braai room, excited about the wonderful time my household and I had at Kariega in December. I puzzled how they’re doing because of lockdown and never having that massive worldwide base of tourism coming by way of. 

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I known as them up and mentioned, “What’s occurring? You guys have to be bleeding. Is there something I can do to assist?” I mentioned, “I’ve acquired a loopy concept, however I’m unsure it’s going to fly as a result of I don’t suppose anybody’s ever gone mountain biking for 36 hours in a recreation reserve between these lions and elephants.

Two weeks later we had the aim, we had the entire construction – commercially – and off we went. The problem concerned getting onto a mountain bike and driving for 36 hours nonstop in the midst of the Kariega Massive 5 recreation reserve. This was in an effort to lift funds for the anti-poaching unit at Kariega – who’re the guardians of the rhinos – in addition to to feed the households of these affected by Covid within the surrounding space.

A staff of about 100 individuals helped Jamie obtain this momentous process.

So that you cycled for 36 hours on a gravel route up and down a mountain, which was the equal of scaling the 9,000 metres of Mount Everest?

Sure, that’s appropriate. I hoped to attain much more. I used to be aiming for about 16,000 metres. However the actuality is that my progress was slowed down by a few issues past my management. We had extraordinarily chilly climate, which actually decreased me to a crawling tempo by way of the night time. But in addition, there have been a variety of stay interviews. There’s a filmmaker doing a documentary on what I did.

I most likely spent about quarter-hour on the high of every summit and on the backside with interviews. The interviews had been needed for the content material that was going out to which individuals had been responding. So I acquired to some extent the place I used to be okay with it. 

Lose the battle, win the struggle. I’m not going to attain the numbers I wished to attain when it comes to distance and elevation, however that’s effective. I nonetheless managed to do 337 km with 9,000m of climbing, which is a formidable process in that setting, with elephants and all types of harmful wildlife round.

The place is Kariega?

Kariega is a 90 minute drive from Port Elizabeth on the east coast of South Africa.

Kariega
Kariega is house to the Massive 5 – together with regal massive cats.

And it’s mountainous?

The street that I managed to search out was simple on the backside however very steep and technical in direction of the highest. My largest concern was truly colliding into elephants, buffalo – or any animals, for that matter – whereas descending by way of the night time. 

My nerves had been fairly shot by the point I acquired by way of the night time. 

Apparently there’s a bull elephant named Charlie that’s fairly a presence there. Did you meet him? 

I did. I had the privilege of getting his blessing. Nearly by a faucet on the shoulder from his trunk. The entire staff was actually anxious. We had about 100 individuals on the staff. All of the rangers, the anti-poaching stationed at varied intervals up the 4,5 km climb in an effort to attempt to maintain wildlife out of the realm. the elephants wish to stroll up the street. The anti-poaching unit was flying drones round on the lookout for harmful animals.

On the very first summit – 5 minutes up the street – this large elephant simply stops us useless in our tracks. There was a little bit of an deadlock for about 5 minutes. Then he moved off into the bush and we sprinted previous.

Kariega
An impressive herd of elephants meander concerning the Kariega Recreation Reserve.

How a lot cash did you elevate and what wouldn’t it be used for? 

We raised simply over R400,000. The marketing campaign continues to be open and folks can nonetheless donate through Kariega’s web site.

The cash shall be used for 2 particular functions. Firstly, to fund the anti-poaching unit at Kariega as a result of they’ve various rhinos on the farm. Secondly, the funds shall be used to offer meals for the communities within the space, by way of soup kitchens that the Kariega Basis funds. 

Jamie, this isn’t your first journey. You’ve finished a problem earlier than. Inform us about that?

I’ve finished various totally different file makes an attempt and excessive endurance challenges. I feel probably the most notable and positively the hardest one to date, was a world file try for probably the most summits of Desk Mountain. I ended up velocity summiting Desk Mountain, a complete of twenty-two instances in 28 hours over two days – which was twice the peak of Everest. That was to lift cash for particular wants youngsters.

The venture was an enormous success. I’ve additionally finished various mountain biking challenges. I appear to have a capability to draw the worst doable climate across the time of the file makes an attempt. I’ve had two life threatening challenges up on Sani Cross in South Africa – which is the border to Lesotho. Throughout each of these challenges, I ended up driving my mountain bike for 12 hours up Sani Cross, which is ranked as probably the most harmful street or mountain go in Africa.

It’s increased than any climb within the Tour de France. You climb 1,000 vertical metres in solely eight kilometres. You climb as much as virtually 3,000 metres in altitude. So it’s a particularly tough and difficult climb. It’s unfastened and rocky. I ended up hypothermic the second time round in an effort to interrupt my file of summits. That was actually robust as a result of we had torrential mudslides and downpours.

Kariega
Robust this problem could have been, however definitely not the hardest. Jamie has cycled up Sani Cross – a gruelling mountain street that results in Lesotho.

I at all times surprise what conjures up journey or excessive athletes such as you. What’s your background? What drives you to do that? 

What drives me to do it’s positively my want to assist and encourage individuals to grasp that nothing they’re dealing with is ever too massive to face – whenever you’ve acquired the fitting individuals round you. I’m very aware – and have been for the final couple of years – of the realities of what individuals are dealing with when it comes to melancholy, habit, monetary and industrial realities. 

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I feel it doesn’t actually matter who you’re. Stress is stress. My ardour and what drives me when it comes to these athletic endeavours is admittedly simply inspiring individuals to consider in themselves and realise that nothing’s too massive to face. The challenges that I tackle are metaphors for what individuals are dealing with in life. That’s why they’re all excessive challenges, as a result of I need individuals in excessive circumstances to grasp that there’s at all times hope for this case, regardless of how tough it’s.

You had some historical past of substance abuse up to now? How did you overcome that? 

If Jamie Marais goes to go climb Desk Mountain, he’s going to do it 22 instances. So, you possibly can think about harmful behaviour. In my teenagers, I positively overdid smoking weed. I took it to an entire new degree and ended up in mind-altering medicine as I left college.

On the age of 19, I drew a line within the sand. I realised I used to be messing up my life. I at all times say that divine intervention is available in many alternative methods. For me, it was by way of a ardour and love for sport and pushing myself athletically, which helped encourage me to get out of the dangerous area I used to be in. 

I’ve additionally constructed up a really shut friendship with Phil Liggett – the legendary Tour de France commentator – through the years, as a result of it was his passionate commentary of the Tour de France that impressed me to cease taking medicine and to get again into biking. I feel what’s simply so lovely is that 30 years later, Phil Liggett himself narrates my excessive endurance movies and he was very concerned with this venture as the worldwide patron for serving to rhinos. It’s simply unimaginable to have this man who impressed me by way of tough instances in my youth as a part of our venture.

Kariega
Jamie’s excessive makes an attempt have a deeper that means. The challenges that I tackle are metaphors for what individuals are dealing with in life. That’s why they’re all excessive challenges, as a result of I need individuals in excessive circumstances to grasp that there’s at all times hope for this case, regardless of how tough”

Effectively, it’s wonderful that you just flip it round for one thing optimistic and use that vitality positively. If we have a look at the problem of rhinos in South Africa. What has Kariega discovered? Has the poaching gone down throughout the Covid-19 pandemic? 

Sure, it has decreased when it comes to simply the presence of poachers. That’s largely as a result of we’ve acquired powerfully armed rangers and anti-poaching models who guard and defend these rhinos. They’re very pro-active when it comes to patrols. What individuals don’t perceive is that it’s starvation that drives poaching.

The man that picks up the gun and shoots the rhino will not be the top buyer. He’s paying gazillions of {dollars} for rhino horn. He’s only a determined individual attempting to feed his household. He’s given a possibility and he takes it. In order that’s why the Kariega Basis exists and believes strongly within the significance of feeding individuals within the neighbouring communities as a way to discourage the necessity for poaching not solely rhinos, however every other animals inorder to outlive. 

Jamie, whenever you’re not dodging elephants and climbing up mountains, what’s your day job? 

I’m truly head of company gross sales for an I.T and tech firm primarily based in Cape City, which is sort of ironic. It’s the acute reverse of what I do. However I really like my job. Even in my job, I’m in a position to assist company companies restructure their finance and their spend with us. I’m pushed by understanding that what I’m doing is making a distinction. It’s essential to me that all the things I do does make a distinction and helps individuals in a roundabout way.

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