Our aim for the 2015 cleanup was to have close to full coverage of our 620km of coastline, to clean Marine Protected Areas, estuaries and rivers, as well as to spread the cleanup inland.
This was set in motion by mobilising KZN Wildlife staff and Honorary Officers. Each staff member sets up a network of volunteers to cover the stretch of coast and district for which he or she is responsible. The volunteers included schools, individual citizens, religious groups, businesses and many others.
The enthusiasm and support was fantastic and our KwaZulu-Natal-based effort was backed by the efficient organisation and administration of the Ocean Conservancy of the USA.
Despite the poor weather conditions, 5 200 enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers cleaned the marine environment from Port Edward to Kosi Bay on Saturday 19 September. Our beaches, reefs, estuaries, rivers and catchments are cleaner thanks to these efforts, having had 22 871kg of litter collected and removed by you. This included 13 784 takeaway cups, plates and containers, 7 621 cigarette butts, 9 094 bottles, 1 178 knives and forks, and much more rubbish.
The International Coastal Cleanup was started by the single effort of one woman walking along the beach in Texas, who was appalled at the amount of litter she saw. In a mere two hours, she organised 2 800 Texans who collected 124 tons of litter.
In 1986, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife joined the global cleanup campaign. This was regarded as a pilot project, with 460 people removing 9 tons of litter from 33km of beach. The effort also extended to five divers who collected 7kg of litter from our reefs.
The programme is now worldwide and encompasses over 700 000 volunteers in 120 countries on the third Saturday in September each year. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife registers 10 000 volunteers within KwaZulu-Natal each year.