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19 January 2006

In Kenya tourism and wildlife go hand in hand, and the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) recently made a major donation towards the Michael Werikhe Trust. Known as "The Rhino Man,", Werikhe walked thousands of miles on several continents to educate people around the world about the plight of the rhinoceros.

His sponsored walks raised money for active conservation, anti-poaching and fencing of reserves. His walks took him across Africa, Europe and the United States and everywhere he went he spoke to young people about the plight of the rhino.

The international black market's demand for rhino horn, has seen the rhino poached to the brink of extinction in recent years. Thirty years ago there were more than 100,000 black rhinos in existence. Today there are probably less than 2,000. The animal is now virtually extinct in several African countries including Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

Kenya remains one of the last strongholds of the black rhino, and Michael, a Kenyan, was determined to see the local population protected and prosperous. He famously said "If there is no hope for an animal so huge, strong and recognizable, what hope is there for lesser animals?".

He was the recipient of many conservation awards and prizes, including the prestigious Goldman environmental prize. The first captive bred black rhino calf born at San Diego zoo was named "Werikhe" in his honor.

Michael Werikhe died in 1999.

The Kenya Association of Tour Operators KATO donated 100,000 Kenya Shillings to a trust devoted to continuing his work. The cheque was presented to Michael's daughters, Acacia and Kora.

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