Environmental activist, Stefan Graunke was joined by employees from Sibaya Casino in cleaning up La Lucia Beach on Friday, 1 March.
This was one of at least 50 beaches that Graunke will clean up as part of his Coastal Ghost Coastline Clean-up Project to clean beaches from Richards Bay on the East Coast of KwaZulu-Natal to Port Nolloth on the West Coast.
His journey started in Richards Bay on 21 February and will see him traverse about 2780km along South Africa’s coastline. Given that fuel will be one of the biggest expenses on this journey, Sibaya also sponsored a full tank for Graunke’s Land Rover. 26-year-old Graunke from Fourways in Gauteng is a passionate nature man and wildlife photographer. He founded Gocapture and is the leader of Travelling in a Pack. He also spent time travelling in Europe to raise awareness of animal abandonments due to relocations.
“I was shocked at the condition of the wildlife and oceans around Europe. Coming back to this beautifully diverse and wild country of ours, I wanted to save my country as much as I can. This is the birth of Coastal Ghost Clean-up Project,” he said. It started as a trip he would do alone but a Facebook follower wrote an article about the project and from there it burgeoned.
“We will be road tripping and stopping off at as many beaches as possible. We will meet locals and supporters and together we will be taking long romantic walks, watching the sunrise and making a difference. My goal is to clean; the more hands, the more rubbish we can collect, and the cleaner our beaches will be,” said Graunke.
He is doing it on a shoestring budget of R15 000 that he has saved, with the help of his family. His mom will sponsor the first three tanks of petrol and his sister will be buying two tyres for his temperamental Land Rover.
“It is not money that makes something like this possible but trust and love. We are depending on our supporters to help us find places to camp or get hosts along the way to help us out,” he said. “We are pleased to get behind this initiative. Marine and river pollution is threatening the health and sustainability of our environment. It has a direct impact on indigenous plants, wildlife, birds and marine life.
“We try to organise beach clean-ups on a regular basis as we feel it is important to take an active role in removing litter and pollutants from our beaches. This campaign is part of a broader initiative which will hopefully inspire people in the communities it passes through to be more conscious about cleaning up and conserving the environment as well,” said Solomon Khumalo, safety, health, environment manager at Sibaya.