A Wilderness father, his daughter, their dog and kitten – who attempted to wait out the 21-day lockdown by camping in a remote area – have been found days after their supplies started running out.
The search for the 34-year-old man and his 11-year-old daughter commenced on Tuesday night along the Silver River, inland of Wilderness, local National Sea Rescue Institute station commander Garth Dominy said in a statement.
“The man’s sister called NSRI, reporting that they had gone camping in a remote area to wait out the lockdown and were only due back after [the 21 days],” he said.
“She had dropped them off by vehicle at the start of a hiking trail last Thursday, but they had called that Tuesday afternoon to say they were low on rations, before the call was dropped. No further contact could be made with them and concerns for their safety were raised.”
Provincial emergency medical services, police and Wilderness Search and Rescue were alerted and plans were made to initiate a search at first light, Dominy said.
“Four NSRI Wilderness crew volunteered to go on a preliminary reconnaissance of the area immediately and an initial search lasting until 11pm was carried out on Tuesday night. But the dense vegetation made access to the area unsafe to continue a search at night.”
On Wednesday morning, a search was launched by the NSRI, Western Cape EMS and Wilderness Search and Rescue.
The man’s brother had given authorities a clearer indication of where the campsite was and a search started on Wednesday morning for the two, as well as their dog and kitten who the NSRI had established had accompanied them on their camping trip.
“Permission to hike through private land to reach the remote and dense bush search area was obtained from a local landowner whose farm lay between the nearest road access point and the area where the camping site was believed to be,” Dominy said.
“During a search coordinated by the EMS manager, we came across the campers who were all fine and doing well and, although they were surprised that a search had been activated for them. They were extremely apologetic for the fuss caused and grateful for their family’s concerns.
“They were found to be in the process of packing up to return home and the search party assisted in clearing the campsite. They hiked back to the road access point without incident; the sister arrived and they went home with [her].”
All were fine, Dominy confirmed, including the dog and the kitten.