Following ancient African elephant migration paths across southern Africa
Tracks of Giants is a 5 month, west to east journey through six countries, connecting major conservation nodes, to promote a greater awareness of conservation, human community and leadership issues.
Why elephant migration routes? Because elephants are a keystone species and play a vital ecological, social and economic role as they anchor conservation initiatives and attract tourists to protected areas.
They also address the question “If we can’t effectively co-exist with and protect something this important, how can we effectively protect and promote the sustainability of other wild life and wild places?”
So say conservationists Ian Michler, a specialist wilderness guide, photo-journalist, writer and naturalist who is co-owner of Invent Africa, a specialist safari company that runs trips to 15 countries across Africa – and Ian McCallum, a medical doctor, psychiatrist, writer, specialist wilderness guide and co-founder of the Wilderness Leadership School in the Cape of Good Hope who‘s director of the Wilderness Foundation.
The route follows ancient elephant clusters and migration routes through six countries including Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
“We will be travelling on foot, using mountain bikes, mekoro’s (traditional dugout canoes) and kayaks, which emphasises the connection and interdependency that man has with nature from a grassroots perspective.”
The 20-week journey covers a distance of 5 000 km and highlights the importance of corridor and trans-frontier park conservation while exploring the successes and failures of the human-animal interface across the region.
The expedition started at the Skeleton coast in Namibia in May and ends in early September on the coast of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa. Currently, there are 71 registered conservancies in Namibia and McCallum views these conservancies as corridors for trans-frontier conservation.
McCallum said “It was wonderful to start in Namibia, as the country is doing well in conservation,” adding that organisations such as the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation need to be applauded as they have greatly contributed to this success. ‘’The future of wild animals depends on the people who look after them and derive sustainable benefit from them.’’
Michler said that though countries are putting a lot of emphasis on conservation and environmental protection and there are some successes, “we are still losing animals and habitats. Species cannot survive without habitat.” He emphasised that if people cannot embrace trans-frontier conservation, he does not see the future of conservation. “In order for us to build a sustainable future, we need to ensure that humans and animals can co-exist.”
Tracks of Giants is a project of the Wilderness Foundation and The WILD Foundation, and supported by Avis and a number of other sponsors. The field team is multi-generational, multi-racial, and gender diverse. On the journey Michler and McCallum are being joined by conservationists and environmentalists while National Geographic is documenting the trip via extensive coverage on multiple digital platforms.
The team is carrying an elephant collar throughout the journey which will be donated to Elephants Without Borders at the end of the expedition. The collar is linked to a GPS tracking device, so that you can follow them live!
Cape Insights deeply supports this epic expedition to raise awareness of the human need for co-existence with wild animals – and urges you get involved.