Miles For Mammals 2020
Last month, field guide Grant Murphy ran an ultra-marathon within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in order to raise funds for two worthy causes – the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve’s K9 Conservation Unit, and Umoya Khulula Wildlife Centre.
While the Comrades Marathon was cancelled due to COVID-19, Grant still wanted to go ahead with running his 16th ultra-marathon and decided to do so in the bush, with the wildlife for the wildlife. And so “Miles for Mammals” was born.
On 14 June 2020 he ran 91.7km in a time of 8 hours and 58 minutes. It was tough terrain, all dirt road, sometimes soft sand and lots of ups and downs but he amazed us all and the whole Kings Camp team are very proud of him. Although the run was gruelling, he feels this is nothing compared to what both the K9 unit and the Wildlife rehabilitation centre does on a daily basis.
Amazingly, he managed to raise a grand total of R128,332.00 for these two very worthy causes. We have been overwhelmed by the support leading up to the race, on the day and of course all of the donations. The money has been split 50/50 with the two chosen charities and we are sure these donations will help hugely in both of there ongoing commitment to wildlife. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed!
Grant Murphy, Kings Camp Assistant Manager and Head Guide got into marathon running in 2004 just to keep fit, and by 2005 he decided to go for the ultimate and give the Comrades Ultra Marathon a go. In the same year he started his guiding career in the Kruger National Park and had to adapt his training to life in the bush. Even since then Grant has been doing his training runs in big five country, among the wildlife.
In 2009, Grant found a position in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and started training on a nearby airstrip. However, once starting at Kings Camp he began running on the dirt roads on the property with the wildlife and has had many interesting encounters. Normally the wild animals see him first and he usually only notices the tracks and signs for them, often contacting the other guides who may be out on game drive via radio to check specific areas as they may get lucky with finding something for their guests.
In the 15 years since he started running in the bush Grant has had some memorable, sometimes hair-raising encounters!
In April this year, Grant came across two young elephant bulls play-fighting in the road, and not wanting to be part of the tussle he detoured, and his new route had a herd of impalas, that began to alarm call which he found odd as they don’t normally alarm call at him running. He stopped to investigate and found a male leopard suffocating an impala! Grant stayed low to the ground and watched quietly until the leopard finished killing it and then dragged it to a nearby tree to be eaten.
Recently he was also heading out on a run for speed training at sunrise, he headed out to the straightest, flattest section he could find. On approach to the area he looked ahead and not far in the distance was the unmistakable shape of a large male lion walking towards him, head down. Grant watched him for a short while admiring his graceful stride and then decided to rather start his speed training in the opposite direction. He was extra fast that day!
On another day he set off for a run from the lodge only to be joined by a pack of African wild dogs and he found himself running with the pack for a short while until they changed gears and left him in their tracks. The song “Who let the dogs out” would have been fitting for that moment in time!
About The Umoya Khulula Wildlife Centre
Umoya Khulula Wildlife Centre, based in the Limpopo province, is a non-profit rehabilitation centre for native South African wildlife. They are driven by a single goal, to do their part in making the world a better place for all South African wildlife that needs help.
They live by a quote by John Feldmann – “I believe animals should be respected as citizens of this earth. They should have the right to their own freedom, their own families, and their own life”.
In their decision-making, the animals always come first, from the tiny dwarf mongoose, to the majestic African elephant, and many in-between. They strive to build productive relationships and make a positive impact with in all their pursuits.
They spread a message of hope and compassion, believing that a single action can greatly impact the world. Through advocacy and outreach the team works tirelessly each day to contribute their part of the greater good. The current Covid -19 situation has been particularly tough for them and any form of help and funding will be humbly accepted to enable them to continue their good work. Check out their website for more information www.umoyakhululawildlife.com
About The K9 Conservation Unit - Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
With the ongoing and ever-increasing threat to our precious wildlife, the reserves are constantly having to up their game, adapting to counter the relentless pressure of illegal poaching of our natural heritage. The illegal trade in rhino horn and ivory has reached record statistics internationally, with a rhino horn reaching a price higher than gold. Frightening figures, considering a horn is made from keratin, the same component as human fingernails!
Due to the dedication of individuals who have decided to fight this war, the numbers of rhinos poached in South Africa is declining. This is a move in the right direction; however, there are still far too many that are being lost. The unity and collective efforts to counter poaching are making a huge difference, whether it is rangers on foot, K9 dog units or financial sponsors, everyone is on the same team.
Loyal guests to Kings Camp and the Timbavati, Ralph and Perdita have sponsored a K9 Detection Unit for the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. These three dogs, K9 Nwari, K9 Rihati and K9 Matimba are highly trained and specialised K9 detection dogs from Germany. They are trained to detect the contraband products of rhino horn, ivory, weapons and ammunition concealed in vehicles and baggage. These three beautiful animals will be taking up their post at the fore front of the effort to protect our wildlife and will be permanently based at the southern entrance gate to the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Here, together with their dedicated handlers they will search vehicles and visitors entering and exiting the reserve.
About The Comrades Marathon
Comrades is an Ultra Marathon race; in fact, it is the biggest ultra-marathon in the world. Calling themselves “The Ultimate Human Race”. It takes place in the Kwazulu-Natal region of South Africa and attracts 27,500 runners and many spectators.
The distance for 2020 is 90,2km (56 miles). It is physically and mentally challenging, pushing people to limits they never thought were possible. Grants best time was 7 hours 47 minutes.
Check out the Comrades website for more information on what this amazing race is all about – www.comrades.com.