Today 19 Staff and Volunteers committed to pushing their own boundaries all for standing up for BABOONS! Walking 26km from the Grietjie Gate at C.A.R.E. to Kruger National Park in Phalaborwa, walking to raise money for essential veterinary equipment to save lives of sick and injured baboons and other wildlife.
This walk also means bringing awareness to the plight of the baboons – baboons who are tragically orphaned every day at the hands of humans, due to HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT, for the sake of using their body parts in traditional medicine, road traffic accidents and poaching. Many come to us after they have been kept inhumanely and illegally as pets, often fed poor diets, tied up when they become too boisterous for the home.
The reality is that they are always traumatized, scared, and often injured, bullet hole wounds, dehydrated, tortured and malnourished and it’s our job to fix the damage humans have caused. For social primates, this is a long road of REHABILITATION, involving the initial healing with experienced veterinary care, vaccinations, and a human Primary Care-Giver to build trust, give love, reassurance and a new start in life.
The support has been overwhelming and we’re well on our way to raising the $4,000 needed to buy an ultrasound machine, which will allow vital veterinary procedures to be done at C.A.R.E. in the modern Clinic which was sponsored by I.P.P.L following the devastating fire we experienced in July 2012. The fire not only devastated and destroyed the operational facilities at C.A.R.E. relied upon for caring for the orphaned baboons, but took the precious life of our inspirational and determined Leader, RITA MILJO. The INTERNATIONAL PRIMATE PROTECTION LEAGUE made such a difference to C.A.R.E. at this horrific time, but it is thanks to them that we are still able to care for orphaned baboons today.
International support has been so heart-warming, with celebrity, ANNEKA SVENSKA, Conservationist and Actress, supporting our cause with a special video encouraging everyone to join, and volunteers all over the world ready to walk with us, wherever they are in the UK, Namibia, US, France and Germany. It really is touching to see the support the baboons have.
At 5:00am everyone is up wondering what on earth we have committed to ……. It’s cold and damp, winter has set in, but we know in a few hours the sun will be scorching through!
Dressed in Walking for Baboons T-shirts and some grateful they agreed to wear baboon costumes at this stage in the day, are all ready to go! Suddenly from nowhere, the deep sense of purpose comes over everyone, as we arrive at the Grietjie Gate. C.A.R.E. is located in a BIG FIVE Nature Reserve so walking from C.A.R.E. could mean encounters with lions, leopards, elephants and any other strolling or hunting wild animal making the most of the early morning coolness, so a short drive to the gate, with volunteers teeming out of the back of bakkies is the start of the day.
The sun is rising, just a quick stop for a photo and we’re ready to start this walk at 6:00am. It seems daunting to be at the start of 26km, but spirits are high and the team spirit is soaring.
It’s a long road ahead but we rely on the craziness and motivation of some of the volunteers to break out into song, waving and cheering at passing cars who beep their horns in encouragement. For every person that sees us and sees we are WALKING FOR BABOONS, and supporting a species that is victimized and tortured every day, we could be saving a life.
The C.A.R.E. vehicle is always a sight of relief as it drives passed us, stopping to give water and fruit every 5km – some of those 5km seem endless, but we are always grateful for it. After 3hrs, we are doing well, but the sun is burning now and the baboon costumes are just an extra source of heat that you can do without, so off they come, leaving shorts and Walking for Baboons T-Shirts visible to all.
A car stops suddenly ahead of us, we are always cautious that not everyone in South Africa feels the same way about baboons as we do, and some may want to let us know, but this is a special treat – Jorge who has a Grocery Store in Phalaborwa has brought extra supplies and opens his boot to reveal sodas and water for everyone to show his support and we couldn’t be more grateful.
TEAM CARE are going strong with a mixed bag of ages, fitness and abilities, it’s fair to say it was the younger ones that were first heard complaining of blisters, but it wasn’t too long before others motivated them and the moaning ceased.
At just over five hours we reached the outskirts of Phalaborwa – considering the Walk was not a race, we were pleased with the time it had taken considering hills and heat ! A quick stop off at Jorge’s Store to thank staff for their support and Makhoma Wholesalers for their donated refreshments and we’re headed for KRUGER.
The final hour was the toughest, it was noticeable that the group were separating, some determined to speed ahead wanting to be the first to touch the KRUGER GATE, and others finding the heat just too much, having to slow and find encouragement from each other, but despite those moments of wanting to give up, every single volunteer and staff member took part or completed the 26km WALK FOR BABOONS and the euphoria and sounds of achievement could be heard for miles. Some collapsed in a heap, some invigorated with adrenaline but we had done it and it’s fair to say some really didn’t think they could, but even the doubters were overwhelmed and proud they had done it, a real sense of achievement.
WE DID IT
Thanks to everyone who took part, supported, donated and sponsored the WALK FOR BABOONS, we really are grateful and the money raised will make such a difference to the lives of so many baboons.