The privilege of joining the Trec1000 team on the last day of their 1000km landmark walk, has altered me. I know I say this about numerous campaigns and projects that have inspiring people following their hearts and putting action to their hope of making a difference in this world.
But something about this crew, and the actual physical act of walking, one step after the other, has a metaphoric value that penetrates beyond an awareness campaign. To a place that has spiritual meaning. One that embraces the greater significance. The community. The hope.
An initiative of Tintswalo Safari Lodge Head Ranger Fritz Breytenbach and his wife Ronel; the idea that Fritz would walk 1000km for the Tintswalo Rhino Extreme Campaign was born out of a deep desire to create awareness of our Rhinos’ plight.
Fritz was accompanied by US documentary maker Steven Lyon of Lyon Heart Love Productions, as well as planet loving Frenchman Hugo Pietos for the duration of Trec, as they captured the walk and took a deeper look into the world of Rhino poaching for their Something That Matters film.
They were supported by a talented team of producers and photographers throughout, namely Joey Skibel and Alexandra Clista from the States, Anna Dabrowska from Paris and well known South Africa wildlife photographer Werner Maritz of Painted Dog Films. Steven’s girlfriend Edita had flown out to join the group on this significant landmark day.
For Dax and I, the gift of sharing the last day began when we joined the group in the early morning. Together they welcomed us and we walked towards their last 25km.
Me with Hugo, Dax, Fritz, Edita and Steven.
Personally I love to walk. I would go so far as to say that I am a walker. There is something wonderfully cathartic about putting one foot after the other. The action. Movement. The free thinking that comes with it. Its the act of doing.
Joining Fritz and team for the last stretch through the beautiful African bush, coming across the occasional game and unimpressed buffalo. Stepping on the game tracks. Avoiding the thornbushes and burrows. Breathing in the highveld air. A gift of nature and I can only imagine how the full six week duration of Trec transported them to a place of inspired believe.
It was infectious. And it was for the Rhino.
On an apple, trail mix and catchup break.
With Joey of the production team, who met up with us to capture some footage along the way.
You will note from some of these these pics that Hugo was walking with crutches. About 400km into the hike he twisted an ankle, but continued to the end despite this. Fritz too took a fall that set him back by a couple of days. But sometimes, the passion and the purpose speak louder than the physical pain.
These are men with souls that extend beyond the realms of normal. Not because they walked 1000km, but because they evolved and influenced with each step. Touching the lives of those who joined them. The villagers that they visited. The conservation groups that they collaborated with. The community leaders, children and even poachers that they met along the way as they spread the Rhino love and captured on film a journey.
They reached their 1000km mark on Thursday 4 July, but the work that they are doing continues as Fritz retraces his steps and builds relationships, creating awareness with fellow rangers working to protect the African rhino.
I love this photo of Fritz by Dax, a man and his environment, in true harmony.
If you’d like to support the Trec Community, all funds raised are going directly to pre-empting the poaching of the Rhino in the Manyeleti and Western Kruger. They work in partnership with WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), and the GRU (Game Reserves United), ‘in their war against the wholesale slaughter of these gentle beasts.’ Mail them to learn how.
Note – All pics are mine, except for those that were taken by Relax With Dax – who was there with me to share in the wonder.