Volunteers shocked during Trashtag Challenge
WARNING: CONTENT NOT FOR SENSITIVE VIEWERS
The #Trashtag challenge is an initiative that has gone viral calling on teens to help clean up ‘our’ mess.
Quite literally, the campaign is sweeping the globe by getting young enthusiasts to clean up littered areas.
Our amazing Wild Animal Volunteers took on the challenge - and got more than they bargained for.
The campaign has received massive traction merely asking that you share a before and after picture of the area that has been cleaned. It was with enthusiasm that the Wild Animal Volunteers from Cango Wildlife Ranch (who visit from across the globe), took on the #Trashtag challenge in Oudtshoorn, on a municipal area in High street loved by locals for outdoor walks.
While scoping the area for the perfect starting point, they expected to find all sorts of rubbish such as plastic, paper, rubber, and glass, but came across several things they least expected to find, some of which shook them to the core. Not far from the road, they saw the dreadful source of the smell that greeted them upon arrival; a decomposing dog. This animal, once a man’s best friend or even a victim of the repulsive dogfighting industry, was illegally dumped and forgotten about with zero respect for the dog, the environment or anyone passing by. Trying to work through the decaying odour that hung in the air, the more they cleaned, the more bones and carcasses were found. Shock, disgust, anger and clear question marks changed what started as a fun and light-hearted challenge, into a very real and very grim clean-up.
“It was sad to see how much trash we consume and then throw away. Clothes, bottles, paper, bags of miscellaneous things, bones, boxes, bricks and more. Seeing the trash piled on the earth made me feel sorry for the planet. Just one piece of plastic (who knows how longs it’s been there) breaks apart into so many tiny fragments. It was hard work, but I was glad to play my part in cleaning up. “ Kristen Pareti, United States
The enthusiastic staff who co-ordinate the volunteers are always proud to show these foreign heroes our beautiful region. Today, however, they were quiet and ashamed. Ashamed of people and ashamed of South Africans.
In total, the team cleaned up 34 full bags (approximately 200kg) in just 3 hours. They made a massive difference, but the area needs many more clean-ups like this to reverse the damage that has been done. Sadly there are many more areas, far worse than this one too.
The Klein Karoo has one of the most diverse plant biomes in the world. It is truly a vegetational wonder and flora experts from all over the world flock to the area to observe succulent species found only here. Many species of animals are indigenous to this rich biome, including the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit. With more than 260 species of birds recorded in the Klein Karoo, it is easy to see why this area is of utmost importance to be protected.
Image to the left: Dumped dog corpse
Wild Animal Volunteers, right after the cleanup, 29 March 2019
All over the country, protected areas exist and are governed by the state. Shockingly, this area, littered with dead animals, condoms, human faeces, domestic waste and lots of building rubble is one of those areas which just happens to be a few 100 metres away from our facility. We are willing to bet there is a place like this near everyone’s home or place of work. So our question to you is… how many more times are you going to walk by before you get your hands dirty?
Let’s not blame local authorities because the responsibility lies with ALL of us. It is OUR planet and nature is NOT a dumping ground. We have encroached on wild spaces enough and it is time to keep the little bit that is left, as untouched as possible for the surviving fauna and flora. Because every little grazing tortoise and humble field mouse simply deserves better.
To the individuals who are a part of this problem, help us complete this census:
Why are you littering?
- I am a jerk
- I don’t care about natural areas
- My mom still cleans up after me
- All the above
So, what now?
Get stuck in and do your own #TrashTag; or simply commit to cleaning up a small area every month as part of a family outing. If you don’t feel like doing a community clean-up, that’s okay too. Start at home. Be aware of everything you use and know where it ends up when you throw it away. Be mindful of your impact on the world and bestow wisdom and teaching on those who don’t know better.
Re-use Reduce & Recycle and be the change you wish to see in the world. Researchers state, that this generation is the first that knows people are destroying the environment and the last one that can do something to reverse it.
Wherever you go - leave nothing but footprints!