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Vroom with a view to making a change in Africa


Vroom with a view to making a change in Africa

KZN adventurer leads an all-women crew to raise funds to alleviate human-wildlife conflict on the continent

Senior reporter

KwaZulu-Natal adventurer and humanitarian Carla Geyser joked that she would be taking her much-loved 1997 Land Rover on an African safari for its 21st birthday.
But in fact her vehicle – named after cartoon character Dora the Explorer – and another 4x4 will be carrying a  crew of 10 women across 9,000km in four countries over 50 days to raise awareness about the human-wildlife conflict.
The crew will leave in September to tour SA, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
“It’s called the Rise of the Matriarch because all around the world there is this incredible movement of women just being more powerful and more independent,” she said.Two years ago 45-year-old Geyser led SA’s first all-female crew expedition to Kenya to help stem the tide of poaching.
This time she will focus on the human-wildlife conflict “that goes on in Africa as the human population explodes. Animals are left competing for land, water and food.”
During their travels the crew will raise funds and awareness, meet local conservation agencies, visit schools in each country, and distribute 30,000 educational booklets to children.
“Each day will be quite busy. Essentially we will be travelling and camping. It takes you out of your comfort zone. You can be the most planned person (and I do like an Excel spreadsheet) but Africa has a way of making you make a plan on the spot,” Geyser said.  
“Obviously security must be taken into account but there is a sense of kindness and ubuntu that we encounter that you often don’t see every day,” Geyser said.
Communities are drawn to the branded vehicles when they arrive. “They want to know more. They are curious. That is why it is so important that we use these expeditions to raise awareness and funds for good causes.”
The funds will go to Elephants Alive in SA, Rare and Endangered Species Trust in Namibia, Eco-Exist Project in Botswana and Zimbabwe's Soft Foot Alliance Trust.
Joining the expedition is a dream come true for Lungile Dimba, the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA’s education administrator. “It is so rare to be deemed fit to actually represent something, to work in great projects and to be chosen to do a job bigger than yourself,” Dimba said.
Celokuhle Biyela, a volunteer at Geyser’s non-profit organisation, Blue Sky Society Trust, hopes to make a difference by joining the expedition.
“I have seen the work that we humans have done to destroy our surroundings. I have heard people say things without facts and I haven’t used my voice enough to educate those without them. I’m hoping to do whatever I can to make a difference.”  
The pair are sponsored by New Zealand-based environmental advocacy and conservation group The Tanglewood Foundation.
Geyser said each crew member would have to pay their own way and it was not too late for businesses and individuals to get involved by making a donation.

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