Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has never exactly been an advocate of environmental issues, once saying “There will be no tree, leaf, lawn or peat bog that I won’t drive over.” His latest stunt, however, was even more of an environmental disaster than usual; driving a jeep of the ecologically delicate Makgadikgadi salt pans, one of the world’s remaining pristine wildernesses.
The sequence was shot as part of a series of off-road ‘challenges’ for Top Gear. It involved 4x4s, pickup trucks and quad bikes being driven across the area, the remains of a now dried-up lake..
The Makgadikgadi salt pans cover 16,000 sq km and are a breeding ground for many endangered species of bird. Yet the topsoil is so fragile that the tracks left by Clarkson’s vehicles will remain visible for decades. The main worry however, is that others may follow Clarkson’s lead and use the salt pans as a giant off-road playground. A local Safari guide, David Dugmore told the Observer Newspaper
“The thing that worries me is the viewers and public are going to go out to the lakes and we will end up with every Tom, Dick and Harry that comes up, with vehicles and quad bikes, which will absolutely spoil the place.”