By Claire Wanja
A new fund raising record was set during the Rhino Charge 2016 held on May 30th in Naikara and Olderkesi group ranches, Narok County.
The total money raised reached an incredible KES 139,402,565, crossing for the third time in row the mark of KES 100 million in the 28-year history of the Rhino Charge. This beats last year’s figure of KES 108 million. Prizes were awarded at a colourful ceremony held at the Charge venue today.
The top three fundraisers are Stanley Kinyanjui of Car 62 (Magnate Chargers) who raised KES 14,500,000, Peter Kinyua of Car 23 with KES 11,215,000 and Alan McKittrick of Car 5 with KES 10,315,243.
The overall winners – teams who visited the 13 control points in the shortest distance – are Alan McKittrick of Car 5 (McKittrick/Knight/Ray/ Smith/McKittrick/Bouvard), Neil McRae of Car 42 (Team 42) and Sean Avery of Car 38 (Team Bundufundi),
The landowners’ access fee totalling KES 4.4 million was raised from entry fees charged on all vehicles entering the venue. The funds will go to community projects run by a local committee. Another KES 1.8 million was paid to 400 people from the local community as wages for providing various services during the preparation and running of the event.
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 the Mau Forests Complex. These mountain ecosystems are the three largest water towers of the country.
David Lowe, Clerk of the Course who coordinates the event, said “I am so thrilled by the growing support the Rhino Charge is receiving, enabling to raise over KES 139 million this year. This represents a 28 percent increase over last year’s figure of KES 108 million. I am also very happy that the two top fund raisers are Kenyan teams”.
Addressing the Chargers at Prize-giving, Peter Kinyua, Chairman of the Board of Kenya Forest Service and driver of Car 23 challenged other Kenyans to join the Rhino Charge movement and participate as competitors in this fund raising event. He said “I am a Kenyan and have been charging for the past 23 years. I have been doing it because I feel duty-bound to contribute to the conservation of our environment. This is not just because each time I travel around the country, I am amazed by the diversity and beauty of our ecosystems, but because those ecosystems are essential in supporting our economic development, our well-being and our resilience to climate change. Yet, too many of us have taken our environment for granted and if we do not take urgent action to preserve it, we are putting ourselves at great risk.”
Reflecting upon the past 28 Rhino Charge events, Julius Kimani, Deputy Director of Kenya Wildlife Service, expressed his amazement at the journey travelled so far. He said “few may believe that an idea shared by three visionary individuals, namely Ken Kuhle, Rob Combes and Brian Haworth, would bring such incredible changes in the way one nation conserve the sources of its water. From KES 250,000 raised in the first charge 27 years ago, we have crossed the KES 100 million mark yearly, bringing to a cumulative figure of more than KES one billion.”
Projecting into the future, Kimani added “we must invest in our communities who are surrounding our protected areas and are hosting on their lands a large proportion of our wildlife. Addressing human-wildlife conflicts, including through fencing, will remain a pivotal component to secure the engagement of our communities in conservation and to protect our wildlife.”
Speaking on behalf of the Rhino Ark Board of Trustees, Brian Haworth who is also one of the three founders of the Rhino Charge, noted that the appointment of Peter Kinyua as Rhino Ark trustee, together with David Lowe as the Rhino Charge Clerk of the Course and Christian Lambrechts as the CEO of Rhino Ark, represents a smooth generational change across the entire institution. “I feel very fulfilled that what we started has a bright future in very able hands,” he said.