#KENYA’S BIGGEST CONSERVATION CHARITY EVENT CANCELLED OVER HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
(Posted 14th August 2020)
The Rhino Charge Committee and the Rhino Ark Board of Directors have cancelled this year’s Rhino Charge, scheduled for 19th of October, for the first time in the 31-year history of the event.
The cancellation is due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing associated risks. The next Rhino Charge will therefore be held on Sunday, 30th of May 2021.
“This decision has been taken with great regret,” comments Christian Lambrechts, Executive Director of Rhino Ark. “Funds raised by the Charge provide a vital part of our annual budget and our work, which is so critical for the conservation of Kenya’s mountain forests and water towers. It is essential that our work continues without interruption.”
Lambrechts says, “The Rhino Chargers have been remarkable benefactors for Rhino Ark over the years. They have invested over KShs1.6 billion in conservation and have helped build 650 kms of electric fence.”
These fences protect 80,000 families from the dangers of human-wildlife conflicts in the Aberdares, Mount Kenya and Mau Eburu. They also protect critical mountain forests that are the water towers of Kenya. They are the source of major rivers that provide the much-needed water to Nairobi, one of the key contributors to Kenya’s GDP. These rivers support the livelihoods of millions of households in the rural areas. They are also the lifeline of key conservation and tourism areas downstream.
“Keeping our fences well maintained and fully operational is critical for the communities farming at the forest edge, the conservation of these vital ecosystems and for securing the ecological services they provide in support of our well-being and our economic development. The challenge today is to ensure that the cancellation of the Rhino Charge – Rhino Ark’s core fundraising event – does not jeopardise the conservation gains made over the past 31 years. We need support from government, donors, the private sector and the people of Kenya as never before, as our conservation work benefits Kenya at large.” says Lambrechts.
“While the cancellation of the 2020 Charge is a massive disappointment to us and all who had hoped to take part, the health and safety of the competitors, supporters, officials and local communities amid this global crisis is paramount.” says Rhino Charge Committee Chairman, Don White. “Planning is already underway for the 2021 event – which will be the best Charge yet. Details of the 2021 entry process, including pledges and funds raised to date, as well as sponsorship opportunities, will be shared with Chargers and Sponsors on the Charge website in the coming weeks.”
The Rhino Charge is an annual off-road 4×4 competition held in Kenya in which entrants are required to visit 13 points (guard posts) scattered over approximately 100 km² of rough terrain within a 10 hour period. Entrants are supplied with a 1:50,000 scale map of the venue, co-ordinates of the 13 guard posts and their start position the night before the event. Each competitor must plot the guard posts on the map and decide his/her route. The winner is the competitor who visits the most guard posts in the shortest distance (GPS measured). The event is organised in order to raise funds to support the activities of the Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust.
The Rhino Ark was established in 1988 as a charitable trust to help save Kenya’s Black Rhino population in the Aberdare ecosystem. Rhino Ark’s formation was specifically to assist the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to build an electric fence along sections of the Aberdare National Park on its Eastern Salient, which has the highest concentration of wildlife and borders directly onto farmland.
Over the years, Rhino Ark’s work has evolved and expanded tremendously to include the conservation, including fencing, of the entire Aberdare range, Mount Kenya, Mau Eburu and Kakamega Forest.
Rhino Ark work includes support for various community based conservation initiatives such as the Bongo Surveillance Programme designed to offer long-term solutions to the conservation of mountain forest ecosystems.