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KWS Senior Warden wins top Rhino Charge award

Date Published: 05 Jun, 2014
KWS Senior Warden wins top Rhino Charge award

One of the participating vehicles in this year’s Rhino Charge event arrives at a KWS guard post

A Kenya Wildlife Service Senior Warden has won one of the prestigious Rhino Charge awards at this year’s off-road motorsport competition.

Simon Gitau, the KWS Senior Warden of Mt. Kenya National Park & Reserve, won the Ken Kuhle Trophy for services to conservation for his exemplary dedication to the conservation of the mountain and the development of the communities around it. 

KWS sponsored a guard post, provided security intelligence and water boozer in the Rhino Charge 2014, which was held on June 1 in Kalama Conservancy, Samburu County. The event raised Ksh 102,919,334, crossing the mark of Ksh 100 million for the first time in the 26-year history of the Rhino Charge.  This beats last year’s figure of Ksh 90 million.  Prizes were awarded at a colourful ceremony held in the Conservancy.

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.

These institutions have jointly been involved in the conservation of Mt Kenya, Aberdares and Mau Eburu in a public private partnership arrangement that has provided a working framework for the conservation of mountain forests, the main sources of water in Kenya. The arrangement has seen the erection of a historic 400-km electric fence around the Aberdares and inspired similar efforts underway in Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu.

The partnerships formed under this model foster efficiency and effectiveness by leveraging the relevant strengths of respective partners and avoiding duplication of effort.

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 Mau Eburu

This year’s motorsport event was won by Alan McKittrick (McKittick/Knight/Ray/Jessop/Bovard/Smith) in Car 5 with a distance of 31.34 km, against a theoretical shortest distance of 24.6 km. His team visited all the guard posts.
David Lowe, Clerk of the Course, said  “I am so happy to see the Rhino Charge and its conservation mission continuing gaining momentum with the Ksh 100 million mark being surpassed this year. The Rhino Charge Organizing Committee remains committed to the conservation ideals of the late Ken Kuhle, the founder of Rhino Ark. As the event grows bigger, we are reviewing its organization towards minimizing its ecological footprint. I am delighted to note that our hosting communities not only benefit from the access fee from thousands of spectators, but also get their profile raised as tourist and conservation destination”.

Winner of the most prestigious Victor Ludorum - highest fundraiser and best placed by formula - was won by Alan McKittrick in Car 5. McKittrick’s team has been highest fundraiser for 12 years in a row. This year they raised Ksh7,236,768.  Since Car 5 entered the Charge in 1989, the team has raised a staggering amount of Ksh108,477,303. 

The exciting Rhino Charge 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 event, which entered its 26 year since inception, attracted international competitors from the UK, US, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Best placed overseas entrant was Peter Castle in car 39 placed 11th overall in the event.  

Speaking during the prize giving ceremony, Christian Lambrechts, Executive Director of Rhino Ark underlines that “the Rhino Ark’s conservation successes have proven that public/private partnerships are effective vehicles for delivering lasting solutions to the challenges affecting the conservation of the Nation’s natural endowment.  They have, indeed, provided a sound blueprint for the conservation of Kenya’s ‘water towers’ that are the source of the country’s water resources”.   

He said the electric fences were the hardware of Rhino Ark’s conservation work and they were complemented by ‘software’ interventions, mainly capacity building of Rhino Ark’s partners, including communities.  The interventions aim to (i) make the electric fence as effective as possible; (ii) improve the management of the protected areas inside the fences; and, (iii) address poaching, one of the most pressing threats to our wildlife and habitats.

These software interventions are wide ranging and include:

-      The development and implementation of formal environmental curricula for all primary and secondary schools around Eburu forest;

-      The conducting of joint quarterly surveillance flights above Mt. Kenya and Aberdare forests to detect emerging issues;

-      The establishment of a high tech. Patrol monitoring system for Mt. Kenya.  The system will be replicated to the Aberdare during this year;

-      The design and conducting, together with the judiciary, KWS and Space for Giants, of training programme for KWS wardens on the prosecution of wildlife crimes;

The camping fees totalling Ksh 2.9 million was raised from entry fees into the venue by all entrants. The funds will go to local conservation projects run by a local committee.

The money raised during this event will go towards fencing Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu. Work on these two projects is well underway with 53 km of the Mt. Kenya electric fence already built and 30 km on Mau Eburu completed. 

 

 

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