Late last year I met with 18 of the 25 South Africans who have summited Everest since I made the 1st South African ascent on 25 May 1996, plus two non-SA summiteers now living in the country. We were guests at a gala dinner organised by summiteer Vaughan de la Harpe to raise funds for the critically endangered Wild Dog.The African Wild Dog Lycaon pictus is South Africa’s rarest carnivore and is classified as Endangered, with less than 500 free-ranging Wild Dogs left in the country. The EWT coordinates the ‘managed metapopulation’ approach to Wild Dog conservation in South Africa, which links a series of geographically isolated private and state reserves capable of sustaining Wild Dogs, but which need sustained, intensive, collaborative efforts to manage these subpopulations as one metapopulation.
Through ticket sales and an auction of artworks and memorabilia – notably including an ice axe owned by Edmund Hillary – the evening raised over half a million rands for the cause. It is pity to see that in over 15 years only two SA women have climbed the mountain. But it is inspiring to see what Vaughan is achieving with his summit successes.