It takes between five to nine days to climb to the highest point of Mt Kilimanjaro but one Gaudance Lekule, a Tanga-born Tanzanian athlete did it in just eight hours.
As if this isn’t enough, he ran from Tanga port city to the snow peak of Africa’s highest mountain in record time 65 hours from August 21 which is no mean feat. Lekule is using his athletic talent to promote Mt Kilimanjaro as a top tourist destination in Africa. The 37-year-old is at the same time promoting environmental conservation through this.
In his media address at Marangu after descending the mountain, he said that this made him feel great. He explained that the purpose of his most recent ascent of the summit was to highlight Mt. Kilimanjaro as a popular travel destination throughout Africa and beyond.
“My mission was also to promote the mountain as a leading destination for tourists coming to Tanzania and Africa,” reports the Citizen.
His reach as a Tanzanian and an athlete was broadened by his ascent to the snow peak from his hometown of Tanga. Through sports, he observes and recognizes the beauty of his native nation.
Why Did Gaudance Lekule Climb Mt Kilimanjaro?
The main motivation for Gaudance Lekule climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is to raise awareness about the need to protect the glaciers, which are in danger. Environmentalists have expressed concern over the rapid decline of what is commonly referred to as Africa’s rooftop.
Recent studies show that the area covered by ice atop Africa’s tallest peak has shrunk from 20 square kilometers in 1980 to less than two square kilometers right now.
Lekule claims that the rapid glacier retreat seen demonstrates a close relationship between the environment of Mount Kilimanjaro and activities occurring further downstream in the Tanga region.
These include practices that are harming Africa’s mythical rooftop, such as farming, water supply, fisheries, and electricity generation. He believes that some of what is occurring to the mountain’s top is due to environmental degradation in the soil and vegetation beneath Mount Kilimanjaro’s slopes.
Why Are Glaciers Important to Mt Kilimanjaro?
Glaciers play a significant role in multiple aspects of the environment, including ecosystems, the climate system, and overall environmental balance. Glaciers are a natural source of freshwater since they are large-scale frozen water reservoirs. They serve as a vital source of water for both human settlements and animal life when they melt during the warmer seasons and release freshwater into rivers and streams.
Glaciers are also sensitive markers of climate change. Their size and range are affected by temperature and precipitation patterns. As a result, glacier retreat and melting become a clear sign of warming temperatures and changing climatic conditions.
They also help to regulate sea level, especially those located in polar regions like Greenland and Antarctica. When glaciers melt and release icebergs into the ocean, more seawater is added to it, which causes sea levels to rise.
Sea level rise due to glacier melt also quickens, having an impact on ecosystems and coastal communities. The UN warns that many UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Yellowstone and Kilimanjaro National Park, will certainly lose their glaciers by the year 2050 and urged countries to take immediate action to safeguard the remaining ones.
A survey of 18,600 glaciers at 50 World Heritage sites, totalling about 66,000 square kilometers (25,000 square miles), led to the warning when it was discovered that glaciers at a third of the sites were “condemned to disappear.”
According to UNESCO, the research demonstrates that these glaciers have been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2000 due to CO2 emissions, which are warming temperatures. The glaciers were losing 58 billion tonnes of ice per year, or roughly five percent of the observed sea level rise, which is equal to the total annual water demand of France and Spain.
All of Africa’s World Heritage Sites, including Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro National Park, would likely be devoid of glaciers by the year 2050. In three decades, it’s likely that some of the glaciers in Europe’s Pyrenees and Dolomites will also be gone.
The same was true of the glaciers in the American national parks of Yosemite and Yellowstone. One of the top 10 concerns from climate change, according to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in February, is the melting of ice and snow.