SOS Rhino Specials
Rhino Species
Rhino FAQ

Other News ::

Current Rhino News
Archived News
Press Releases

SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : May 2002 : Raising Money for Good Cause

Raising Money for Good Cause


The East African Standard (Nairobi)
May 18, 2002

Omulo Okoth

A unique sporting event initiated by conservationists to assist Kenya Wildlife Service resolve wildlife-humans conflict 13 years ago has brought smiles on the faces of people living near the Aberdare National Park.

The project was started in 1988 at a time when Kenya's rhino was severely under threat from rampant poaching for its highly valued rhino horn.

Its aim was to build a fence along sections of the Aberdare National Park in its eastern Salient where rhino were being mercilessly poached. The Salient bordered directly onto farming land.

"Not only could poachers have easy access, but game was able to maraud at night into the park border hunts destroying crops, creating fear and loss of both revenue and, on occasions, lives too," Colin Church, chairman of Rhino Ark management committee, said in an interview.

"The situation fuelled an already volatile community who saw no value in protecting either the wildlife or the forest habitat," Church said. The Aberdare's provide the biggest water catchment area for the 2 million residents of Kenya's capital city of Nairobi.

Over one million farmers living on its lower slopes depend on its rich soils and rainfall. Over 30 per cent of the nation's tea production and 70 per cent of its coffee is grown on its foothills and high slopes. It is home to several thousand elephants, vast numbers of buffalo, forest antelope, leopard, including die illusive giant forest hog, bongo and over 270 species of birds.

The Aberdare is one of the surviving strongholds of the Black Rhino, for which the Rhino Ark was set up in 1988. The Aberdare National Park within 1643 sq. km. of the Aberdare Conservation Area is one of Kenya's prime national parks. It is the place where Britain's Queen Elizabeth stayed on the night she became a monarch.

The Rhino Charge, the only sport of its kind in the world, was started by Rhino Ask, a project formed to specifically assist KWS to finance a 320-km fence to encircle the entire Aberdare Conservation Area with a game proof fence, strong enough to resist elephant pressure, powered with electrification to keep wildlife inside the fence and to curb illegal log extraction, snaring and poaching of wildlife.

This year's Rhino Charge is due June I in the Narok area.

Rhino Ark is the vehicle to manage funds from biodiversity donor agencies to assist with the fence project.

"Once complete, it will protect for posterity one of Africa's greatest conservation regions with its abundant wildlife, indigenous forest and mountain upland. The project is a pioneer in the concept that both humans and wildlife can live in harmony from shared natural resources - brought together by a common fence boundary," Church said.

Rhino Charge is the main fund raiser of the project, having so far raised $1.5 million (Sh120 million). By October this year, the fence will have covered 160-km, which is half the entire fencing project, stretching along the entire Eastern side of the Aberdare range from Nyahururu in the North to Chinga in Othaya division at the southern end of the range.

This is already the longest conservation fence in the east African region.

"The fence has brought harmony between the wildlife inside the fence with farmers who live outside it. The farmers can sleep peacefully at night without fear of crop destruction and entry into their land by dangerous game,' Church said.

Says Mrs Felicitus Nyambura, a farmer bordering the fence: When wild animals are on their side, there is no longer a problem. It will be good when everyone has a fence like the one along my farm. Just killing animals is no answer. We must not let our forests be destroyed."

Rhino Charge is an off road annual competition restricted to 55 four-wheel vehicles who tackle impossible terrain to complete the shortest distance between 12 guard posts by travelling in as straight a line as feasible.

"We restrict it to 55 vehicles because the number can be effectively managed and the environmental impact is minimal," Church said.

To enter the event, learns from Kenya and overseas have to raise as much money as they can for the sponsorship of each vehicle entered with a minimum of Sh 100,000 to gain entry.

Quite a few have raised over Sh I million and others over Sh 2 million.

Rhino Ark runs a number of other fund raising events including the more recently launched Hog Charge a children's mountain bike event similar to the Rhino Charge and the Quattro Charge events.

Rhino Charge UK, a skills and endurance fun event for 4x4 off-road drivers, was started four years ago to help raise funds for the Aberdare fence.

According to Church, in the period 2002 to 2005, Rhino Ark will require Sh 180 million ($ 2.25 million) to complete the fence. Rhino Aries plan includes the establishment of an investment trust fund to run the management process in perpetuity. A further Sh200 million ($ 2.5 million) is projected.

"As a method of discouraging conflict between wildlife and humans, and especially the damage to crops caused by larger mammals, the fence has proved to be very effective tool," Zoo Atlanta, KWS and the Kenya Forest Department, led by Dr Thomas Butynski, who completed a study and plan for the final fencing line for unfinished areas, wrote in their report.

"If the success of the fencing, where it is in place, is repeated around the rest of the Aberdare Conservation Area, then it is likely that this essential natural resource can be preserved for generations to come," the report said.



Privacy Policy