The annual Rhino Charge has over the past 27 years established itself as a prime fund raising event, supporting initially just conservation but of late also supporting the different host communities, where the annual event is being held.
This year a new record was set with 108 million Kenya Shillings raised, a resounding sign that the people of Kenya, and Kenya’s corporate world, value wildlife conservation and are cognizant of he fact that unless conservation is supported, wildlife based tourism would face a dire future.
The Rhino Charge 2015 held yesterday (May 31st) in Kalepo (Namunyak Conservancy), Samburu County, raised KES 108,617,802, in keeping with the above KES 100 million mark broken for the second time in the 27-year history of the Rhino Charge. This beats last year’s figure of KES 102 and the previous year’s figure of KES 90 million. The prizes were awarded at a colourful ceremony held in the Conservancy today.
The top three fundraisers for this year were Car 5 – Alan McKittrick (KES 7,595,979), Car 23 – Peter Kinyua (KES 5,620,000), and Car 35 – Mark Tilbury (KES 4,546,925). Alan McKittrick’s Car 5 team remains the highest fundraiser for 13 years in a row. Last year, Car 5 raised KES 7,236,768 slightly below this year’s figure. Since Car 5 entered the Charge in 1989, the team has raised a staggering amount of KES 116,073,282.
Distance-related results for the competing cars are being consolidated and further analysed and will be released as soon as possible.
Rhino Charge was started in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Based on its success, the project has since been extended to Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu.
David Lowe, Clerk of the Course, said: “I am so happy to see the Rhino Charge and its conservation mission continuing to gain momentum with the KES 100 million mark being surpassed for two years in a row. The new arrangements established this year for the spectators, including the online ticketing system, worked very well and were commended by a number of competitors and spectators alike. As the event grows bigger, the reviewed organization of the event made it possible to minimize its ecological footprint and improve spectator experience and safety. I am delighted to note that our hosting communities not only benefit from the access fee from thousands of participants, but also get their profile raised as a tourist and conservation destination”.
The Rhino Charge raffle, which aims to assist sponsors in fundraising, was very successful with over 120 prizes. The main prize, two return business class air tickets to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on the national carrier Kenya Airways was won by Car 5 sponsor Media Edge Interactive Ltd.
The second prize of two return tickets to Maasai Mara (Safarilink), two nights for two full board (Cottars 1920’s Camp) and a balloon ride for two (Balloon Safaris) was won by Car 56 sponsor Mister Wok Chinese Restaurant.
The third prize of two return tickets to Malindi (Fly540), two nights for two half board (Hemingways Watamu), and one-day fishing for four, including lunch and drinks (Simba Fishing) was won by Car 11 sponsor, Tony Sahni.
Speaking during the prize giving ceremony, Christian Lambrechts, Executive Director of Rhino Ark noted that “over the past three years, Rhino Ark’s conservation portfolio has expanded significantly around four key thematic areas: (1) protection of Kenya’s mountain forest and their diverse wildlife; (2) support to the livelihoods of forest-adjacent communities and their engagement in conservation; (3) securing the connectivity (wildlife corridor) with, and between mountain forests; and (4) use of science to assess the impacts of, and review Rhino Ark’s conservation work”.
The prize giving event was attended by the five Aberdare Fence Trustees David Kuria, Hannah Gichimu, representing the forest adjacent communities, Rhino Ark Executive Director Christian Lambrechts, Kenya Wildlife Service Senior Assistant Director Robert Njue, and Kenya Forest Service Director Emilio Mugo. The function was also attended by Kenya Forest Service Chairman Peter Kirigua.
Camping fees totaling KES 4,190,145 million was raised from entry fees into the venue by all visitors. The funds will go to local conservation projects in Kalepo run by a local committee as well as to support the overall management of Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust. This represented a remarkable increase from last year’s host community of Kalama Conservancy’s KES 2.9 million camping fees.
The money raised during this event will go towards Rhino Ark’s projects on Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu. Work on these two projects is well underway with 80 km of the Mt. Kenya electric fence already built and the 43 km perimeter fence around Mau Eburu completed.
Rhino Ark remains committed to the Aberdares. Together with Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service, Rhino Ark is continuing the maintenance and strengthening the management of the 400 km electric fence and its gates around the Aberdare ecosystem. New from last year is the rehabilitation of Phases I, II and IV that were completed in the 1990s and had outlived their initial lifespan of 20 years. Therefore, the rehabilitation is expected to extend the fence lifespan by another 20 years. This highlights Rhino Ark’s long-term commitment to the maintenance of the Aberdare Electric Fence and the conservation of the Aberdare ecosystem.