In 2016, the Elephant Ignite Expedition’s all female crew embarked on an epic 3-month, 10 country journey aimed at raising awareness for the poaching crisis faced by Africa’s declining elephant populations. The project was spearheaded by Carla Geyser from Blue Sky Society Trust, a KZN based conservation focussed, non-profit organisation. The 16 000km journey saw the ladies engage with 37 conservation organisations that work tirelessly to help preserve Africa’s declining wildlife populations.
During the first week of their journey, they visited Elephants Alive in APNR where Dr Michelle Henley gave them valuable insight into EA’s monitoring and research work during a hands-on elephant collaring operation. Two elephant bulls and one cow were collared as part of an ongoing study to determine how minerals in the soil, water and plants influence elephant movement with one of the aims also being the application of this data to support efforts to mitigate human-elephant conflict. The study forms part of a larger, ongoing research project in the area of the Phalaborwa Copper Mine where interestingly, a number of the elephants have been visiting regularly. The collar for the elephant cow was funded by the expedition and she was subsequently named “Ignite”, much to the delight of the crew. So began a journey of keeping a protective eye on Ignite’s movements…
Fast forward 4 years, and Carla has expanded on the sustainable travel concept, successfully leading expeditions into Africa under the banner Journey’s with Purpose. #JWP brings together like-minded people from around the world on trips that focus on visiting and raising funds for wildlife initiatives along the route. To date the #JWP expeditions have travelled to Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia. At least four expeditions are on the 2020 travel calendar.
To kick off Blue Sky Expeditions year, and their fundraising drive, a small team will re-visit Elephants Alive in a joint collaring operation in March. Ignite’s collar is nearing the end of it’s four-year lifespan and the original Elephant Ignite team together with individuals from some of Carla’s later Journey’s with Purpose Expeditions are rallying to support the collaring operation aptly named “Re-igniting Ignite”.
Commenting on the upcoming trip Carla said: “Going back to –re-collar Ignite makes me feel like a proud parent and getting back together with some of the original expedition team is equally as exciting as we formed a very special, sisterly bond while travelling in 2016.”