The Rhino Charge is a world renowned motorsport event, but also, and primarily, a major fund raising activity for the conservation of Kenya’s mountain forests, also known as the ‘Water Towers’ as they are the source of the Nation’s water resources. Indeed, since its conception in 1989, the Rhino Charge has raised a staggering amount of over KES 1 billion (USD10 million) towards the Aberdares, Mt. Kenya and Mt. Eburu in the Mau Forests Complex. Whilst the first Rhino Charge raised only KES 250,000 (USD28 000), this amount increased tremendously over the years to reach over KES 102 million (USD1.117 million) in the 2014 event.
The venue of the 2014 Rhino Charge took place in Kalama Conservancy, a community owned and managed conservancy in the wilderness of Samburu in Northern Kenya. The proceeds from the entry fee (Vehicle Access Fee) went towards supporting community projects in the conservancy. Funds raised by the competitors are now used for fencing Mt. Kenya and Mau Eburu ecosystems, in addition to maintaining the Aberdare Electric Fence and engaging fence-adjacent communities in conservation.
Towards minimizing the ecological footprint of the event, the duration of the competition is limited to 10 hours and only 65 competition cars may participate. Further, to avoid cumulative impact from consecutive events, the Rhino Charge is organized each year in a different location. In keeping with Rhino Charge’s conservation mission, all refuse was collected across the entire venue and a Waste Sorting Station was set up where all non-biodegradable refuse, in particular glass, cans, tins and plastic bottle, among others, were separated and taken to Nairobi for recycling.
This year’s event lived up to expectation for the entrants who were flagged off at 7.30 am from the spread of guard posts scattered through the rugged rock strewn hills and gulleys of Kalama Conservancy. The Charge was won by Alan McKittrick (McKittrick/Knight/Ray/Jessop/Bovard/ Smith) in Car 5 with a distance of 31.34 km, against a theoretical shortest distance of 24.6 km.
The prize giving event was attended by senior officials of the key agencies involved in the conservation of the water towers, namely Kenya Wildlife Service Deputy Director Robert Njue, Kenya Forest Service Chairman Peter Kirigua, Kenya Water Towers Agency Chief Executive Officer Francis ole Nkako and Rhino Ark Chairman Michael Karanja.
The money raised during this event will go towards fencing Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu. Work on these two projects is well underway with 68 km of the Mt. Kenya electric fence already built and the 50 km around Mau Eburu nearly completed.
Angama Mara is proud to be associated with the Rhino Charge – www.rhinocharge.co.ke. David Lowe, project manager for the construction of Angama Mara, dedicates 2 months a year of his time towards ensuring the staggering success of the Rhino Charge. In 2015 Angama Mara will be an active supporter of this important conservation effort.