Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Saturday, June 05, 2004


Today I went to the launch of Megaflyover from Swartkop Airforce Base in Pretoria.

MegaFlyover is a unique conservation project that will traverse key ecoregions on the African continent. Starting June 5, 2004, from Pretoria and finishing in 2005 in Gibraltar, the project will take a close look at the African landscape - its people, vegetation and wildlife - in order to spotlight the continent's untouched natural places and spark conservation action. The project is sponsored by National Geographic and the Wildlife Conservation Society and will be led by WCS conservationist
J. Michael Fay, with support from The Bateleurs, an NGO flying for the environment in Africa.

There were some interesting moments but it was a bit long and drawn out, it was a relief when the two little red cessna's finally decided to take off. But in saying that, Michael Fay is an incredible man. He is the person who in 1999 set out to walk 3000 km's through the Congo River Basin and Gabon. The walk led to him being instrumental in starting up 13 conservation areas equalling 3.1 million hectares in Gabon. On one occassion it took 10 hours to traverse 900m through dense swampland. He works with the
Congo Basin Forest Partnership, and the really amazing part is the way he has managed to get buy in from local communities, logging companies and the Gabon government. He even managed to get co-operation from rebels during conflict in the Congo so that one of the conservation areas weren't harmed during the conflict. I think he has an incredibly intelligent approach to conservation because he realises that human infringement on virgin forest and logging companies are a reality, he calls his approach - not a new term - resourse management, and works with relevant role players towards a sustainable conservation that can and is working in reality.

During the Megaflyover project he plans to explore all the pristine ecosystems in Africa that he is able to get to and study exactly what the implications of resourse extraction and human settlement are so that he can use the data to try and protect what's left of the environment. It's good to to know that there are people like Michael Fay out there.


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