Dirk Ten Brink retires as Rhino Fund Chairman


Dirk Ten Brink, best known in Uganda for his long service first as General Manager and then Director of Group Operations (Golden Leaves Hotels) at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, has an almost equally long association with the Rhino Fund Uganda.

It was Dirk who joined hands with Uganda’s first Rhino Lady Yvonne Verkaik, who kept the Rhino Fund Uganda ticking over when founder chairman Ray Victurine left Uganda, to procure the first two rhinos, now resident for over a decade at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. The Sheraton Kampala actively helped to raise funds, from guests wishing to contribute to conservation in Uganda but also on a corporate basis, to pay for ‘Sherino’ while the opposite number at the time was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Sudhir Ruparelia, named ‘Kabira’.

When Dirk eventually left Golden Leaves Hotels, then the company owning and managing the Sheraton Kampala Hotel under a franchise agreement with Starwood Hotels, he left a legacy behind at the hotel which continues to this day and the present day close partnership is rooted in the conservation work done by Dirk and his staff over many years.

Dirk served on the board of trustees of the Rhino Fund Uganda under the chairmanship of this correspondent for nearly 8 years until 2008, when he was elected as chairman of RFU, and he is credited with steering the Rhino Fund and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary through challenging times. There were however many rewarding moments, in particular the births of 6 rhino babies during his term as chairman, which brought the overall number on the sanctuary to now 12, six adults and six adolescents, while the mothers are reportedly all in the family way again.

Now, 5 years down the line, Dirk is retiring to Europe and has, for the time being at least, handed back the responsibility of looking after the Rhino Fund to this correspondent, until during the Annual General Meeting later this year existing vacancies on the board can be filled and a new substantive chairman elected, to lead the Rhino Fund into the future.

Uganda’s conservation community will no doubt be greatly saddened by this news, and join this correspondent in expressing our all deepest gratitude to Dirk for the tireless work done, the never ending fund raising efforts and the long if not endless hours spent on Rhino Fund and Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary business, besides the many trips to the sanctuary, the expenses of which, as has been customary at RFU, were born by the Chairman himself at no cost to the Rhino Fund Uganda.

All the best to Dirk and his wife Annie, as they leave Uganda tonight. Happy landings, happy retirement days ahead and Kwaheri Ya Kuonana to you both – remember, you always have a place in Uganda which you can truly call your own. Rhino Regards to a truly exceptional individual, who came to East Africa decades ago, made it his professional and personal home and who, with other likeminded individuals, made wildlife conservation, and the return of the rhinos to Uganda, his business. Asante Sana, Webare Nyo, Thank You and Danke Schoen my friend.

(Dirk Ten Brink pictured here with the Executive Director of the Rhino Fund Uganda Angie Genade during a past visit to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary)