|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Funding is being sought for the construction of Kenya’s first wildlife overpass in Naivasha as preparations enter the homestretch for the 29th edition of the annual Rhino Charge off-road motorsport to be held on June 3.
The proposed wildlife overpass above Moi North Lake Road will enable wildlife, including giraffes, to move freely from Lake Naivasha’s shore to the nearby forest.
This was announced to Rhino Charge competitors and sponsors during a pre-event briefing in Nairobi at the weekend. David Lowe, Clerk of the Course, revealed that the venue was still kept secret and was likely to be 250km from Isiolo where the route notes leading to the venue will start from.
Lowe highlighted key issues pertaining to security and the care for the environment on the venue, as well as on the registration process for all competitors, sponsors, officials and visitors.
To minimize the impacts on the environment, Lowe said, several measures had been taken by the Rhino Charge Committee. Limits have been set on the weight (3000 kg) and tyre sizes (40 inches of diameter) of the competing vehicles. These will be checked against the set limits during Scrutineering (vehicle inspection) that will take place the day before the Charge. In the spirit of the recent Gazette Notice by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources on the banning of plastic bags, the usage of single-use plastic containers (such as bottle, gobelets) at the Charge venue have been strongly discouraged. David Lowe also announced that no officials will use plastic bottles during the event. As during the past three events, all refuse will be collected, sorted on site and brought back to Nairobi for recycling, except for bio-degradable waste.
Simon Gitau, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Assistant Director in charge of Mountain Conservation Area, confirmed that no plastic bottle will be used by the KWS team participating in the Rhino Charge. He also mentioned that KWS took the decision last year to ban the use of plastic bottles in Mt. Kenya and that the ban will be effective from July 1, 2017, giving thereby nearly one year to the tour operators and porters to prepare to comply with the ban.
Furthermore, Rhino Ark committed to make the Rhino Charge climate neutral from this year onwards by offsetting all the CO2 emissions related to the running of the event, as well as related to all travel by competitors, officials, sponsors, camp providers or spectators to come to the event.
Since its inception, the Rhino Charge has been the main fund-raising event for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust. Over 92% of the funds raised by the competitors goes directly in support of the conservation work of the trust. Christian Lambrechts, the Executive Director of Rhino Ark highlighted some of the key achievements by his charity during the past year thanks to the funds raised by the chargers.
About 151 km of the Mount Kenya Electric Fence has been completed. Construction of the fence in the Imenti Forest in Meru is nearly completed. “The Imenti Forest is an interesting area as it demonstrates so well our effective are our conservation intervention, in particular fencing” said Lambrechts. Indeed before the fence was built, it was a major human-wildlife conflict area. Between January 2014 and February 2016, 10 community members have been killed by elephants and in retaliation, we lost 10 elephants. Since Rhino Ark started building the fence last year in March, no community member lost their life and only one elephant has been killed.
Following the completion of the 43km perimeter electric fence around Mount Eburu, the focus of the charity has been on securing the wildlife corridor between Eburu Forest and Lake Naivasha. To date, agreements with the four companies owning the land inside the corridors have been signed. In addition, through various private initiatives, the corridor between Eburu Forest and Moi North Lake Road has been fenced on both sides. With the support of KWS, Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the land owners, Rhino Ark and the road contractor, KeeRA endorsed the proposal of building a wildlife overpass above Moi North Lake Road. The road under construction has been lowered to provide the required height.
During the recent prolonged drought, many fires have affected Mt. Kenya, Aberdares and the Mau Forest Complex. To minimize the impact of these fires, Rhino Ark provided strategic support to KWS, KFS, Mount Kenya Trust and the forest-adjacent communities who provide the bulk of the manpower to fight the fires. Through such collaborative efforts, fires did not affect the central moorlands of the Aberdares, and did not extent to its pristine upper forest zone.