A man from Lephalale has decided to walk 1500km from Mpumalanga to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town to raise awareness around rhino poaching.
Anton Fouche said he especially wanted to make people aware of the plight of rangers who often got caught in the violence that went with poaching.
“We only ever hear about the rhinos being poached, but these poachers never think twice to kill a ranger who gets in their way,” he said this week.
“It breaks my heart that these people’s names go unnoticed. Most people don’t have an idea of the kind of danger these rangers put themselves in to protect our rhinos.”
Fouche started his journey a week ago by dragging a life-sized rhino replica on wheels from Nylstroom and had completed 100km already. The replica featured about 1215 red dots, signifying the number of rhinos killed last year.
“If I’m not mistaken, we’re at the 750 mark of murdered rhinos in 2015 already, I hate to say this but we’ll probably surpass the 2014 number,” he said.
Fouche described himself as a promoter of animal rights.
This is not the first time he took on a dusty road challenge like this. In 2013, he completed a 466km walk from Pretoria to Musina for the same cause.
Asked what he did to prepare for his journey, Fouche said he practised back in his home town of Lephalale by dragging the rhino replica around as far as he could and tried to exercise as much as he could.
“I rely mostly on strength, energy and health provided by God, I’m thankful that I haven’t suffered injuries thus far, and trust that I won’t have any for the next 1400km.”
Fouche said the best part of the walk so far was the positive response he received from total strangers along the road.
“I walk in the emergency lane every day and most of the time people will hoot at me, wishing me luck on my journey. Sometimes you’ll find that people stop and offer me some water of cold drinks,” he said.
“What’s really amazing is that people open their homes to me as an overnight facility. Sometimes it’s just nice when people stop to make some conversation.”
Fouche keeps a cooler with water and snacks on a trolley underneath the rhino to keep him healthy and hydrated throughout the day. He brought along a tent and some sleeping attire for when he had to sleep next to the road.
Asked if he would do this again, he quickly answered: “In a heartbeat. If this is what it takes to make people aware of the situation, then so be it.”
Fouche said some friends had joined him on the road for back-up and support.
Fouche’s number is 079-970-4279.
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