Nature guide Bruce ‘Burpee’ Lawson kicks off the #BurpeesForConservation challenge to benefit Greater Kruger

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Tshembo Africa Foundation’s “#BurpeesForConservation” Challenge

South African wilderness guide and instructor, Bruce Lawson will attempt to perform 30,000 burpees over ten days in a hotel room in Australia while being quarantined.

 

As Tshembo Africa Foundation founder, Bruce's athletic antics for the BurpeesForConservation challenge will launch the campaign to raise 1 million South African Rand. Bruce and collective participants worldwide will sweat their way through a million burpees between 15 March and 11 April 2021.

 

The drive's proceeds will be used to upskill anti-poaching teams to preserve wildlife in the Greater Kruger Area in South Africa through the Greater Kruger Environment Protection Foundation (GKEPF).

 

Their aim is also to motivate 10,000 people in over 30 countries to improve their fitness levels by doing burpees for the cause through collective participation. Bruce hopes to inspire as many people as possible to join by trying to break a world record of doing 30,000 burpees over ten days.

 

The link between the pandemic and poaching

 

The BurpeesForConservation proceeds will be donated via Tshembo Africa Foundation to the Greater Kruger Environment Protection Foundation (GKEPF).

 

The tourism industry in South Africa was hard hit by the effects of the pandemic last year. About ten percent - over 6 million people- of South Africa's working population is employed in the tourism industry. 'Areas around the Kruger National Park, in particular, were very negatively affected when accommodation establishment had to close down due to the lockdown. Towns such as Hoedspruit in the Limpopo province, for example, are almost solely reliant on tourism,' says Sharon Haussmann, CEO of GKEPF.

 

Combined with this humanitarian crisis, there was a halt in funding coming into the country's protected areas and parks. No guests meant that no park levies were paid to enable the parks and nature reserve to keep up their constant battle against wildlife crime. This led to a stark incline in poaching and important wild species facing an even steeper uphill battle to survive.

 

Tshembo Africa Foundation launches in hard lockdown

 

The #BurpeesForConservation campaign is being run off the back of a previously successful fundraising endeavour. Bruce and fellow wilderness trails guide Sean Pattrick, decided they would spend the last three days of the most severe lockdown restrictions in April 2020 walking fifty kilometres a day around their back gardens whilst carrying their trails packs. This idea grew into the #Walking4Hope campaign, where Bruce and Sean were joined by current and former colleagues, students, guests, and friends; a backup ‘army’ of people from all over the world that ended up walking for almost a month.

 

To convert this surely strenuous endeavour into a successful fundraising campaign, Tshembo Africa Foundation was founded by likeminded wilderness guides overnight. This enabled them to help raise and channel funds towards the food crisis many people around the Kruger National Park faced because of the loss of their jobs due to the pandemic. Within doing so, they combated subsistence poaching in the surrounding wilderness areas, National Parks and Private Game Reserves.

 

When #Walking4Hope finished in May 2020, over 200 people in 22 countries worldwide had participated and subsequently 900,000 ZAR was raised for food parcels. The funds were used to buy fresh produce from small-scale farmers in the area who usually deliver to the lodges and then distributed to the families and communities in need adjacent to the Kruger.

 

'Along with reaching the fundraising goals, the campaign allowed the many participants to focus on something positive, something meaningful and impactful at a time when many things were completely uncertain; it gave us a goal,' explains Bruce.

 

On March 15th, Tshembo Africa Foundation, Bruce Lawson, and the Greater Kruger Environment Protection Foundation invite people worldwide to join them in the #BurpeesForConservation Challenge to raise 1 Million South African Rand to train, upskill and motivate Anti-Poaching Units in the Greater Kruger Area.

 

Meet Bruce ‘Burpee’ Lawson

 

Bruce walked 1,000 kilometres within 20 days during #Walking4hope, a remarkable feat of endurance. He has walked more than 20,000 hours in the African bush during his career, making him arguably one of, if not THE most experienced wilderness trails guide out there. He also spent two years of his life walking from Cape Town to Cairo, another charity-driven mission.

 

Bruce currently works as a specialist multi-day wilderness trails guide, as well as specialising in birding safaris and all the while running 'Bushfit with Bruce’, a CrossFit-style gym using minimal equipment, perfect for people stuck at home during the pandemic.

 

But why burpees to raise funds?

 

Bruce explains: 'Burpees are a great exercise because they work nearly all of the body's major muscle groups, including quads, chest, shoulders and core, whilst also being a cardio exercise that requires explosive energy. I personally don't find burpees that difficult, in fact, I enjoy them and incorporate them into most of my workouts. Because of that, I'm going for the endurance thing with the challenge.’

 

‘Many people hate burpees because they're such a tough way of doing exercise, and that's probably another reason I chose them for this challenge. Having proper motivation (such as raising 1 million ZAR for a worthy cause) is much better than me telling people to do something because it's healthy. If people are motivated, they may as well do something that's both difficult and good for them at the same time.'

 

Bruce will be live streaming the BurpeesForConservation launch and his participation on 15 March 2021, live on YouTube.

About the Greater Kruger Environment Protection Foundation

 

The GKEPF was established in 2016 in direct response to the alarming number of endangered animals being killed in the Greater Kruger region by poachers. GKEPF aims to minimise wildlife crime by continuous training and upskilling of anti-poaching units, their trackers and dog handlers and having aligned approaches in protecting the Greater Kruger's boundaries.

 

The need for sufficient funding for non-profits like GKEPF is higher currently than ever before. A report was recently released, which detailed that Kruger National Park had lost over 60% of its white rhino and over 35% of its black rhino population in six years between 2013 and 2019. Even after this startling loss, the Kruger still has by far the largest rhino population of any single protected area in the world. Now, more than ever, the South African National Parks slogan of 'Unite Against Poaching' needs to ring true. Source: Africa Geographic

About Tshembo Africa Foundation

 

Tshembo Africa Foundation was launched in 2020 during Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in South Africa. It was founded by nature and wilderness guides Bruce Lawson, Sean Pattrick, Nathalie Arn and Daniela Mates as well as Rhona Scheppel and Manfred Kluge.

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