Due to begin in October, this estimated seven month journey will conclude in late April 2014 – with Christie covering a distance of over 3000km on foot. The journey is supported by international conservation organisation, the Wilderness Foundation as well as a number of other sponsors including Vibram Fivefingers and Wintec Solutions. According to Christie, additional sponsorship is still required to fund the rest of the equipment and supplies required for the expedition.
Inspired by a childhood love of nature and driven by a distinct dissatisfaction with ordinary living, Christie is determined to make the journey a success. He came up with the idea after hiking the Otter Trail and experiencing the incredible diversity of the Tsitsikamma forest and the beaches which stretch along the Eastern Cape coastline. He realised he could help protect one of the country’s most precious resources by raising awareness and funds for organisations working to protect and rehabilitate the coastline.
Christie’s journey comes at a pertinent time following the environmentally devastating Kiani Satu oil spill in the Southern Cape. According to one rehabilitation centre, 66 oiled African penguins, 172 oiled Cape gannets and one White-breasted cormorant have been admitted to the facility to date. Another oil spill on the Western Cape coast near Robben Island was reported on Monday, 2 September, but the damage has yet to be assessed.
Christie will be blogging, photographing, Facebooking and tweeting both the good and bad along his journey. He hopes to encourage the public to fall in love with their natural coastal heritage, and to be inspired to protect it. He also hopes that his journey will highlight some of the ways that government, NGOs, corporates and other organisations can work together to ensure both the protection of the coastline and the sustainability of the resources it provides.
The project will also raise awareness specifically for two of the Wilderness Foundation’s conservation projects, namely the Forever Wild Great White Shark Conservation Initiative, which focusses on the Great White Shark as a charismatic keystone species and a symbol of ocean wilderness; and the Pride Project, which is a youth-oriented experiential education programme run predominantly in coastal provinces.
The success of the Six Million Steps journey will depend both on Grant’s passionate story telling via various media platforms as well as the public’s response. Christie, however, is confident that the journey will make a big impact on coastal conservation in South Africa.
For more information, visit www.sixmillionsteps.co.za
. Alternatively, visit the Facebook page
or follow @6millionsteps