uMhlanga man to trek for charity

Grant Melville and two others will be trekking the Grand Traverse to raise funds for the K9 anti-poaching unit.
Grant Melville and two others will be trekking the Grand Traverse to raise funds for the K9 anti-poaching unit.

UMHLANGA resident, Grant Melville, has always had a passion for wildlife. Besides working with KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, he has 15 years of hiking and bush experience, he has also been a SANParks honorary ranger since 2012. The 47-year-old along with two seasoned hikers will trek in the UKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains called the “Climb for K9 Drakensberg Grand Traverse” which serves to raise awareness about poaching and the great work that the SANParks K9 units are doing to curb and counter poaching of our wildlife.

Melville will be joined by Ian Shooter from Pietermaritzburg and Jeffery Mthabela. The trio will attempt the 230 kilometre Drakensberg Grand Traverse in support of the SANParks K9 Units on 25 May.

“Our wildlife is under threat all over South Africa. We are hiking to raise awareness about the plight of our rhino and elephant populations, and all the other animals killed by poachers in our national parks – and to demonstrate what can be done to counter this threat. It’s going to be tough, especially because of the cold and the altitude. It doesn’t matter how much training you do, you just have to be prepared mentally. If anyone is willing to help donate to the cause we would be grateful,” he said.

Some of the members of the anti-poaching K9 unit. PHOTO: Lowvelder

Some of the members of the anti-poaching K9 unit. PHOTO: Lowvelder

K9 anti-poaching unit

In 2012, the first three specially trained dogs were introduced to reinforce the SANParks Counter-poaching Ranger Units combating rhino and other wildlife poaching in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and their presence is having a positive effect.

“Currently, 52 dogs and their handlers are on duty in this park alone. The dogs, which include Belgian Shepherds, Bloodhounds and Foxhounds, track poachers, find carcasses in the field and detect firearms, ammunition and wildlife products at the park entry gates.

“The canine (K9) tracking teams are deployed by helicopters, vehicles and on foot, to patrol our national parks and deter, track down and help arrest poachers to protect our wildlife. They work in remote and pristine areas, often unassisted, just as we will be on our hike,” Melville said.

How you can help

If you can contribute supplies or assistance to the Climb for K9 or want to learn more, please contact us at ClimbforK9@gmail.com.

You can make a secure donation towards the SANParks Honorary Rangers’ Climb for K9 fundraising campaign by using the GivenGain platform. Or if you would like to contribute directly, deposit your contribution into the SANParks Honorary Rangers bank account no. 1585 392 448 with Nedbank, Branch code 158550.

  AUTHOR
Shiraz Habbib
Journalist

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