Comrades Marathon and 8 Mile Club support conservation

Wildlands recently hosted Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) general manager, Keletso Totlhanyo, Wildlands fundraiser Justine Rae and 8 Mile Club founder Stan Kozlowski for a wildlife experience held at the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve in Northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Participants in these two iconic sports events raise funds that help pay for conservation efforts in the reserve.

The wildlife experience has become a key driver for Wildlands fundraising and enabled the dehorning and collaring of black and white rhino on Somkhanda for the past three years. 8 Mile Club swimmers who sign up to take part in the Midmar Mile and Comrades Marathon runners who select Wildlands as their preferred charity, raise funds for rhino conservation.

The rhino may land in an unfavourable position once darted and the team needs to help push it into a safe position so they can do their work and the animal’s wellbeing is secured. Picture: Andile Mthethwa

Collectively, the Comrades runners and the 8 Mile Club swimmers raised just more than R600 000 for Wildlands rhino conservation projects.

Dehorned

Over the weekend, three rhino were dehorned and the group were privileged to spot buffalo as well as the Somkhanda lion pride, vultures, kudu, impala and inyala.

“It was awesome to see how the experienced conservation team efficiently and professionally go about their business in helping to make Somkhanda a reserve of choice to visit, that will be accessible to everyone, as well as assisting communities and wildlife to survive side by side. The 8 Mile Club is proud to be associated with Wildlands and support the fitment of tracking devices to rhino, elephant, lion and other animals as well as the dehorning of rhino,” said Kozlowski.

Emotions

“I cannot describe the range of emotions I experienced at Somkhanda; I will forever be changed. The work being done is just incredible,” Rae added.

“For me, this weekend was filled with entertainment, education and information. We were informed about the dangers of plastic to wildlife. I found this resonated with me the most as the Comrades event is exploring alternatives to plastic sachets to reduce our environmental footprint during the race,” Totlhanyo commented.

A wildlife vet dehorning a rhino. Picture: Andile Mthethwa

“The support we receive from the fundraisers and donors enables us to carry out vital work to reduce the poaching risk of these iconic species and assists in securing rhino populations for future generations,” Izzy Rowles, Somkhanda Community Reserve Tourism concluded.

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Wildlands is one of the six charities that benefit from the Comrades Marathon and the aQuelle Midmar Mile. Look out for the opening of the Comrades entries in the next month or so to become a Wildlands runner.

To support the work being carried out at Somkhanda Community Game Reserve, visit http://wildtrust.co.za/somkhanda/

Main picture, top: By notching the rhino’s ears, the wildlife team on the ground are able to identify them when monitoring and tracking them on the reserve. Picture: Jordan Milton