The formation of an alliance by four influential environmental NGOs adds momentum to the growing opposition to the controversial method of shale gas mining - which has been banned in more than 150 jurisdictions around the world. The SAFE (Sustainable Alternatives to Fracking and Exploration) Alliance includes the Wilderness Foundation, Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the African Conservation Trust (ACT); and will act as a platform to oppose fracking and seek alternative, more sustainable development options for the targeted fracking areas. “Current fracking applications cover half of the Karoo region and 18% of South Africa. Applications to explore are also spread throughout the foothills of the KZN Drakensberg, one of South Africa’s most important water catchments, including the Tugela river basin. We believe that there are alternative, sustainable activities to capitalise on in these areas which will be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable,” says Wilderness Foundation director, Andrew Muir. “It is incumbent on organisations such as the SAFE Alliance to oppose practices that are clearly not in the best interests of South Africa and its people,” says Muir. The current focus of the SAFE Alliance is to utilise legal tools to oppose the issuing of any license in connection with fracking in South Africa. According to TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal, “Government and the companies pushing fracking in SA must provide sufficient documentation to prove that the potential and actual environmental, social and economic impacts of the irreversible and controversial mining method have been fully investigated, identified and taken into account in any policy and decision making process.” The South African Department of Minerals was expected to release its task team report on fracking to Cabinet by the end of July. However, the SAFE Alliance has raised concerns that the task team did not have adequate time . . .
After kayaking almost 350 kilometres down the waterways of northern Botswana, dodging hippos and crocs, walking 125 kilometres through the Chobe National Park from Savuti Marsh to Goha Gate, and then kayaking another 232 kilometres on the mighty Zambezi river, the Tracks of Giants team reached the waterfront on the edge of Livingstone, Zambia on Wednesday, July 11. This marked the end of the second kayak leg as well as the 2,500 kilometre half-way mark for the entire Tracks of Giants journey. Specialist wilderness guide, photojournalist and naturalist Ian Michler, and medical doctor, psychiatrist, writer and conservationist, Ian McCallum, are two of the core members of the Tracks team. They are joined by a backup team, and various sponsors and supporters along the way in this epic 5,000 kilometre journey to raise international awareness of the importance of corridor and transfrontier park conservation and the understanding of the human-animal interface in southern Africa. They are travelling along ancient elephant migration routes, and are carrying an elephant collar donated by conservation organisation, Elephants Without Borders (EWB). “It is a symbol of how we’ve learned from monitoring elephants and how that knowledge has become our path, leading us towards positive conservation efforts,” says Kelly Landen of EWB. Landen and Dr Mike Chase, also from EWB guided the Tracks of Giants team through Chobe and the Linyanti Floodplain in Botswana. This elephant collar will be deployed onto an elephant in the Chobe area after the expedition has been completed. According to Michler, “The last few days of the kayak leg in Botswana ended in a multitude of magnificent elephant sightings – family herds or groups of bulls around almost every bend!” One of the aims of Tracks of Giants is to rekindle the rapidly declining indigenous knowledge base of the human-animal interface, and indigenous solutions to conservation challenges and issues. Guided by EWB, the team . . .
The Tracks of Giants team passed the 1700 kilometre milestone on June 01, 2012 at Guma Lagoon in Botswana, which marked one third of the journey successfully completed. The team of ‘Trackers’ includes conservationists, media, a backup team, and various sponsors and supporters who join the core team along the way. One of the aims of Tracks of Giants is to rekindle the rapidly declining indigenous knowledge base of the human-animal interface, and indigenous solutions to conservation challenges and issues. Specialist wilderness guide, photojournalist and naturalist Ian Michler, and medical doctor, psychiatrist, writer and conservationist, Ian McCallum, are two of the core members of the Tracks team. They are undertaking the entire journey without the use of mechanical transportation. In order to track the journey via GPS, the backup team is carrying an elephant collar which is linked to a tracking device. The collar acts as a symbol for the Tracks of Giants journey as well as a valuable part of the backup team’s equipment. It will be donated to Elephants Without Borders at the end of the expedition. The 5000 kilometre, 20 week journey through six countries kicked off in Namibia on May 01, with the core team and Wilderness Leadership School guides travelling on foot through the Skeleton Coast National Park facing temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius in the shade. Switching to bicycles at the end of the first leg, the team cycled from Puros to the Botswana border post which was reached on Tuesday, May 29. From the dunes and spectacular desert landscapes of Namibia to the more wooded flora-filled region of western Botswana, the team has encountered wildlife and nature at its most wild. Sightings of desert elephant, oryx and springbok were not uncommon in Namibia, while the Botswana leg has included encounters with hippo and crocodile. Along the way, the team is investigating various examples of corridor and transfrontier park conservation, and are . . .