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Cycle with the rhino 2011 event

Date Published: 19 Sep, 2011
Cycle with the rhino 2011 event

KWS Director, Mr. Julius Kipngetich flags off cyclists during last year's cycle with the rhino .

Saturday, 17th September 2011, Nakuru: The 8th edition of the Cycle with the Rhino event held at the Lake Nakuru National Park raised Sh6 million for conservation.  
The event’s platinum sponsor Standard Chartered Bank increased its sponsorship for the event to Sh 3 million up from Sh2 million last year. The bank assured the organisers of the event Kenya Wildlife Service of their continued participation in the event. Other key sponsors of the event include Coca Cola (Sh1.2 million), Safaricom (Sh300,000), Kenya Pipeline Company, (Sh500,000) Geothermal Development Corporation (Sh200,000)

This year the Elite race saw cyclists ride a distance through a treacherous 85km terrain. The race was won by David Kinjah who clocked in at a time of 2:31:00 minutes followed by Anthony Mwite who clocked 2:34:00 and Farrell Ross who took the third spot at 2:34:02.

Dedan Ivevi who races in the disabled category entered the race in the 53km Amateur category and led the pack for a good distance. The race was won by Nelson Otien Kere in a time of 1:35:10 followed by George Makai who clocked in 1:35:12 and finally Linos Musiani who took the third place after coming in at 1:35:14.
The Junior race was well attended with a pack of over 100 kids. James Muchiri, Willy Mwangi and James Kimingi topped their colleagues in first, second and third place respectively. This year’s event was attended by a total of 190 cyclists in various categories.

This year’s event was held on the eve of the World Rhino Day to be celebrated globally next Thursday on September 22, 2011.The day is marked globally to draw attention to the plight of the endangered rhino and highlight on efforts being made by KWS to boost anti-poaching strategies, give greater protection to the species.
The black rhino numbers in Kenya dropped from an estimated 20,000 in 1970 to under 400 by 1990. This had since been addressed with numbers showing a recovery trend hence the increase to 597 in 2010. Illegal demand for rhino horn and the resulting poaching, declining habitats and climate change continue to be a major threat to the black rhino.  

In Kenya rhinos are found in Lake Nakuru, Nairobi National park, Tsavo West, Lewa Downs the Maasai Mara National Reserve and Chyulu Hills Nat , Ol Jogi Group Ranch, Tsavo East, Mugie Ranch and Chyulu Hills National Park.

Lake Nakuru National Park is a critical sanctuary for rhinos and thus the reason for holding the event.  This event is held to raise funds for the protection of Rhinos as well as other endangered species.  The park was the first national rhino sanctuary to be created in Kenya and has since been the source of rhinos for other national parks and reserves across the country.
This year’s race was preceded by a four-day road-show in Nakuru County sponsored by Coca Cola to create awareness among the local community.   An evening party is also planned at the park entrance after the event.
The Cycle with the Rhino is a spectacular and unique cycling event held every September at the Lake Nakuru National Park and part of the Nakuru Municipality.  The money raised is used to rehabilitate Lake Nakuru National Park’s 74-km baboon-proof electric fence around the park as well as support community projects in conservation.
Last year’s edition of the cycling race raised Sh7.5 million. It  drew over 57 adult cyclists for the 64-km gruelling race within the park and through the neighbouring community as well as Nakuru Town. Four top winners of the race were sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, the event’s lead sponsor. The adults’ race was won by 26-year-old Samwel Mwangi, followed by John Njoroge, 25, while the third place was taken up by Suleiman Kangangi aged 21. The first woman cyclist was Seline Atieno, 25, sponsored by Lake Nakuru Lodge.

Nakuru town and the Lake Nakuru’s National Park’s sustainability are highly threatened by the increasing urbanization, pollution, land de-gradation, decrease in quality and quantity of water in the lake and loss of biodiversity, as a result of deforestation in Mau, Eburu and Bahati forests. Consequent research has shown possible danger in losing this important ecosystem within the next 8 years, if matters remain the same! Cycle with a Rhino is one of the initiatives that have been developed to curb the degradation of this ecosystem.  

Conceptualised in 2003, the unique and spectacular fun-filled-cum-fundraising cycling race aims to rehabilitate the 74-km baboon proof electric fence and undertake community conservation education around the fragile Lake Nakuru National Park. The Sh25 million raised since inception in 2003 has seen at least 18 km out of 74 km target of the fence rehabilitated.  

Lake Nakuru National Park was designated a bird sanctuary in 1961, extended up to 6000 ha in 1964 and the 63sq km gazetted in 1968.

It was extended to its current size of 188sq km in 1974 through funding from the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF). Due to rising poaching, it was established as the first State-managed rhino sanctuary in 1984, later granted rhino sanctuary in 1987 and declared Ramsar site (protected wetland) in 1990 for the protection of migratory water fowl. The park’s chain link fence was erected in 1976 and the electric fence in 1987.
1950:     The Lake was used for bird viewing and bird shooting – soda  fish[sarotherodon alcalicus graham] was introduced.

1961 :     Designated bird sanctuary

1968:            The lake and shoreline, about 6km2 was gazzeted as a   National Park [including the southern part].

1970’s:         Extension of the park through purchase of land adjacent    to the lake by WWF [area now 188km2]

1980’s:        Rhino sanctuary status

1990             Lake Nakuru N.Park was designanated as Kenya’s 1st  Ramsar site [Wetlandof international importance].

2005:             Branded as ‘the Bird watcher’s Paradise’ under KWS marketing blitz

2009:          Designated as an Important Bird Area [IBA]

2011:            Declared Unesco World Heritage Site.

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