Willie goes the extra mile for animal care

Willie Richards endured 19 days of sandy and poorly maintained roads, strong winds, scorching sun and extreme terrains to raise funds for a mass sterilisation programme in Mamre.

A Big Bay man has raised big money for a campaign to sterilise animals in Mamre.

Willie Richards spent the better part of last month running and cycling 1845km from Blouberg, Namibia, to Blouberg, Cape Town, to raise more than R60 000 for non-profit animal welfare organisation African Tails.

It needs R170 000 for the #mendingmamre sterilisation drive it is doing with Four Paws South Africa.

Mr Richards covered about 100km a day during the 19-day duathlon, and a big crowd of supporters was waiting for him for the last leg of the race from Darling to Big Bay.

Last week, when Tabletalk spoke to him, he was still recovering from saddle blisters.

Wincing slightly when sitting down, he said he had been doing long distance duathlons and triathlons for charity since 2007, but the African Tails, #whereswillie campaign had been his biggest duathlon yet.

“Looking at long distance in its entirety is overwhelming. I chose to do short distances at a time,” said Mr Richards.

He said he would not have survived the gravel roads and harsh climates without his teammates, Deon Maartins and Alfred Benz, both from Table View.

“Deon is the chef and drives the vehicles. He’s level-headed, solid and always concerned. Alfred takes care of the navigation and all the logistics. I would not have achieved any of this without them”.

Mr Richards said his campaigns were for animal welfare organisations because most charity work was for people.

“Animals have no voices. We do a lot for humans. If we do not fix anything in nature we will fail in everything else,” he said.

Alma Schaap, from African Tails, said #MendingMamre was about more than just sterilisation: it was about educating and uplifting the community through animal care.

“Mamre was incredibly overpopulated with dogs. On average there were about six dogs per household,” she said.

Sterilising at least 70 percent of an animal population in an isolated area would help to keep the numbers down in the long run. They had sterilised 1 000 animals in the past six months and still needed to do 2 500

Although Mr Richards’ duathlon is over, people can donate until the end of December. Visit whereswillie@africantails.co.za or www.givengain.com/cc/whereswillie for more information.