Imagine walking 5700 kms with nothing but a 40 kilogram backpack as support!
Some readers will have followed the epic swim of South African Lewis Pugh on his blog published on SkyNews.com as he swam from Lands’ End to Dover in his plight to draw attention to the need to protect our oceans. Following Pugh’s almost unbelievable 49 day swim St Francis Today was able to gain some insight of the gargantuan achievement when we were able to interview the skipper of the boat that made Pugh’s a success who just happened to be a local, one Stephen Praetorious.
Well another South African, some would call them crazy, others, passionate conservationists, just happens to have strolled into Cape St Francis yesterday on a journey that will see him walk the length of the coast of South Africa and Mozambique to draw attention to plastic in our oceans and shoreline as well the need to preserve and protect marine life, in particular sharks.
Dean Swart, an ex-farmer, ex in that Mugabe chased him from his farm life in Zimbabwe to South Africa, set out ON FOOT to walk from Alexander Bay on the West Coast to the Mozambique border with Tanzania. The 5700 plus kilometre journey started in April and Dean anticipates it will take him two years to complete. He was was well under way when he unfortunately suffered a stress fracture when in the Mossel Bay region and had to take a few weeks break from his journey while his leg healed. But he is back on track having arrived in Cape St Francis yesterday (2nd October). Y
We often read of people walking or cycling long distances to raise money / awareness to causes but these walks are on main roads. Dean is doing it the hard way, he is following, where ever possible, the coastline. Many readers will have done the Otter Trail and similar arduous trail walks and will know they are not easy but they marked developed trails. Certainly Dean follows these trails but much of the time he forges his own trails risking life and limb on cliff edges and river crossings, all with a 40 kilogram on his back.
In most instances be they walkers or cyclists travelling between cities for a cause they will walk in groups or be accompanied by and entourage of helpers. Usually they will sleep in warm beds at night. Not so Dean! If lucky enough to make it to a small coastal village, well and good, if not, he sleeps under the stars, raining or moonshine.
Chatting to Dean he stressed how bad the plastic pollution really is. Plastic lines our coastline and it is local plastic not plastic discarded by passing ships as some fishing boat skippers would have us believe. Even on the remotest coastline, 5-litre plastic bottles now form part of the flora. Walking on coastal vegetation the scrunch of plastic hidden under the growth is a grim reminder of just how bad the pollution is. And then the hundreds, no thousands of metres of discarded fishing line that he comes across on his journey.
As passionate as Dean is on reducing plastic pollution so is he on protecting sharks. Explaining the essential part they play in our oceans and that without sharks the oceans would perish, so important is their existence.
Before buying that 5-litre bottle of water consider first how are you going to dispose of it.
You may spot him today as he makes his way towards Jeffreys Bay so give him a some encouragement and applause if you do see him. And before discarding your plastic bottle / packet remember the image of him trudging along the beach.
There is a lot more we will write on Dean’s travels as we follow him on his journey for he had a lot to say on how we all can make a difference.