Running for wildlife across Kenya

Elissa Poma December 15, 2013 0

Beaton and Bharji are documenting their journey on Facebook, where this photo was posted.

In their quest to run across nearly 250 miles in two weeks across southern Kenya to raise awareness for wildlife conservation, two young women found a respite over the weekend at a Natural Habitat camp.

Dudu Beaton and Ajmeet Bharji – the so-called Bushfit Girls – stopped Friday night at Natural Habitat Safaris’ Lesleshwa Camp on the edge of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The women are running to raise funds and awareness for wildlife conservation in their native Kenya, following a route in protected areas that also serves as a migratory path for mammals.

“Once outside of these protected areas, the animals are very vulnerable to poachers,” the women wrote on their website, “and their natural habitat is also being destroyed by charcoal burning and alternative methods of land use. We hope to bring awareness not only externally but within the local communities to this destruction.”

Warm beds, hot showers and a full dinner awaited the women, who arrived in camp Saturday afternoon after a long day running across difficult conditions. “Unseasonable rain had the Loita Hills soaked, making the trek even more difficult,” Natural Habitat Safaris’ Andrew Corbett said in an email to Good Nature.

After joining camp guests for dinner, the women stayed overnight in one of Leleshwa’s tented camps. The next morning at sunrise, the women set off, with wildlife trackers from the camp escorting them. They stopped for a picnic breakfast overlooking the Taleke River before crossing from the Siana Conservancy into the neighboring Naibosho Conservancy, Corbett said.

The women have been blogging about the experience and posting on Facebook as the run progresses. Other runners have joined them on sections of the route, and they also have had air patrols to protect them from wildlife. As of Sunday, they’ve raised more than $15,000.

Earlier this fall, a WWF grant recipient, Kenyan Jim Nyamu, completed a similar endeavor in the United States, walking more than 560 miles in an effort to save elephants. In 30 days, he walked from Boston, Massachusetts, to Washington, D.C., stopping at schools and universities and meeting with local and state representatives along the way. He concluded his trip with a visit to WWF’s headquarters.

 

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