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Hikers Club join Moyale Barracks in ‘saving’ the environment | Malawi Nyasa Times

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“The time the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, the last animal is hunted, that’s when we will realize that money cannot be eaten. Environment is meant to be sustainable. Unsustainable environment degrades the carrying capacity of the earth and the atmosphere.

“Anthropogenic activities have continued to degrade environment at an alarming rate,” these are the words of Commanding Officer for Moyale Barracks, 3rd Malawi Rifles, Lieutenant Colonel Thoko Chazema.

3rd Malawi Rifles Moyale Barracks Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Thoko Chazema

To beat the drum louder, Lt. Col. Chazema will this August 28th 2021 be joined by members of the Hill Climbing Club (HCC), who are fitness and healthy living advocates sharing the ‘go-green’ philosophy.

HCC’s hiking objectives are hinged at conserving the environment so that people can exercise in an advantageous atmosphere and live healthier lives free of any conservational deprivation.

The two, Moyale Barracks and HCC, will thus conduct a 14 kilometres walk and run through Kaning’ina Forest Reserve, an epitome of eco-friendly preservation in the city of Mzuzu.

To underscore his point, Lt. Col. Chazema adds that scarcity of water in the capital city Lilongwe is owed to the deforestation of Dzalanyama Forest and other bordering catchment areas by illegal loggers and charcoal burners.

“Recently, the same wanton cutting down of trees has been registered in Kaning’ina, Nkuwazi, Perekezi and Luhomero Forests. The trends posture threat to Mzuzu Dam as a main source of water for Mzuzu residents.

Lt. Col. Chazema and Mtheto Lungu getting ready for the challenge.

“For those conducting illegal logging and charcoal burning in Kaning’ina and other mentioned forests, be warned that the Lions of Kaning’ina Forest will defend their habitat religiously, as not conserving this forest would mean annihilation of these lions.

“The Lions of Kaning’ina have a duty to protect themselves and their habitat. Stay away from Kaning’ina Forest. Support Ops FRIENDS OF FOREST,” he cautions.

Coordinator for HCC, M’theto Lungu, agrees with the Commanding Officer that the weather patterns have changed globally over the years and that Malawi has not been spared.

“Nobody ever thought that we could have floods in Ntandire and Kawale townships in Lilongwe. What Malawi also experienced at Dwangwa in Nkhotakota and in many parts of the country last year is a sign that we as humans have forgotten our natural positioning to be caretakers for the environment.

“At HCC we do not just ensure that people have healthier bodies and live longer pleasurable lives, we are also alive to the fact that a despoiled environment is our own peril.

“We join the Lions of Kaning’ina in this exercise to amplify their resolve to fight forest and ecological deprivation. We join all those countrywide and beyond who know that humans cannot survive without a clean, vibrant and protected eco-system,” he said.

The exercise, which has been dubbed the ‘Commanding Officer, Moyale Barracks, Lt. Col. Chazema – Kaning’ina Forest Conservation Challenge’, will see HCC members join top military officers and officers and soldiers from Moyale Barracks and other military formations and cities, and other stakeholders and well-wishers brave the route from Jesus in Coming, to Kamfwiyo, all the way through Kanyerengozo and end at the Kaning’ina Gallery Range.

Through the route, hikers will amplify messages of forest conservation, and there will be support and rescue teams made up of professional soldiers to assist everyone.

“Our aim is to ensure that anybody and everybody that comes will beat the challenge. At HCC we leave nobody behind and we take the pace of the slowest, encouraging them to fulfill their hearts desires.

“We build resilience and endurance in participants no matter their physical, mental, and age-related capabilities. We ‘Tone That Muscle’ as we make fitness a lifestyle for all,” adds Lungu.

Environmentalists indicate that forests have a number of benefits as they support life in many instances such as public health, economy and recreation.

Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, hence enhancing a community’s respiratory health much needed during the incumbent pandemic (COVID-19).

Trees produce carbon (CO2), reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and thereby protecting the ozone layer and hence conducive to life.

“Communities and business districts with healthy tree-cover attract new residents, industry, and commercial activity. Fun seekers including hikers enjoy tree cover which is inviting and cool areas for recreation and relaxation such as playgrounds and parks.

“For soldiers, forests are offices and offer cover and concealment from enemy fire and observation,” concludes Lt. Col. Chazema.

Taking place in the event of Covid19, Lungu explains that the organizers will ensure that all participants observe the measures as laid out by health officials.

“We shall ensure that hikers are put into smaller formations that provide and encourage social distancing, that since its more of a walk (hike) and not a run of competition to finish earlier, participants will be able to utilize their face masks, and that hikers are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizers.

“During the reception at the end of the activity which will be held at the Officer’s Mess, as organizers we shall ensure that these and other measures are followed, including washing hands at arrival to the exercise and at arrival to the reception and throughout the reception at frequent intervals,” he said.

HCC and Moyale Barracks call to conserve forests, plant trees on bare terrain, stop hunger for money at the expense of trees through careless cutting down of trees for charcoal burning should be taken into serious consideration, they say, and therefore expects as many people to participate in the event whose fee is tagged at an affordable K6,000 only per head.

HCC is a borderless fitness initiative established by civilians and serving uniformed members with membership across the globe that share their fitness and healthy living experiences through social media, and organizes activities monthly and ad-hoc, encouraging and supporting the formation and establishment of more fitness groups across the world at all levels.

HCC motto is ‘Tone That Muscle – It’s a Lifestyle.’

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