South African wilderness guide and Tshembo Africa Foundation founder Bruce Lawson has launched the BurpeesForConservation challenge to raise R1-billion.
Lawson and collective participants worldwide will sweat their way through a million burpees between March 15 and April 11.
Lawson himself will attempt to perform 30 000 burpees over ten days in a hotel room in Australia, while being quarantined. If he succeeds, this will break a world record.
The campaign’s proceeds will be used to upskill antipoaching teams in the Greater Kruger Area of South Africa, through the Greater Kruger Environment Protection Foundation (GKEPF).
The foundation is encouraging people globally to improve their fitness levels by doing burpees for the cause.
GKEPF CEO Sharon Haussmann says areas around the Kruger National Park, in particular, were very negatively affected when accommodation establishment had to close down owing to the lockdown.
She points out that towns such as Hoedspruit, in Limpopo, are almost solely reliant on tourism. 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 battle against wildlife crime.
This led to a stark incline in poaching and important wild species facing an even steeper uphill battle to survive.
Lawson’s burpees campaign follows another one he and trails guide Sean Pattrick undertook in April last year, which initially involved walking 50 km a day for three days in and around their back gardens while carrying trail packs.
This idea grew into the Walking4Hope campaign, where Pattrick and Lawson were joined by current and former colleagues, students, guests and friends who all ended up walking additional steps for a month.
When that campaign finished in May 2020, over 200 people in 22 countries worldwide had participated and subsequently R900 000 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 Lawson, who ended up walking 1 000 km in 20 days during the campaign.
Explaining the rationale behind the idea of the latest fundraising campaign, Lawson remarks that burpees are a great exercise because they work nearly all of the body's major muscle groups, including quads, chest, shoulders and core, while also being a cardio exercise that requires explosive energy.
“Many people hate burpees because they are such a tough way of doing exercise, and that is probably another reason I chose them for this challenge. Having proper motivation, such as raising R1-million for a worthy cause, is much better than me telling people to do something because it is healthy.
“If people are motivated, they may as well do something that's both difficult and good for them at the same time.”
Lawson will be live streaming the BurpeesForConservation launch and his participation on March 15, on YouTube.