Rhino Charge – An Adrenaline-Charged Race to Preserve Nature and the Environment

Staff
10 Min Read

Rhino Charge, an intense annual event that sees a range of off-road monstrous machines take to the rugged terrains of the Kenyan landscape for conservation efforts, is quite unlike any other. It is an event held to raise funds for vital projects managed by Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust, an initiative focused on preserving ecosystems, biodiversity, and livelihoods through environmental conservation, thus creating a win-win equilibrium that balances the needs of local communities to protect nature. 

Sponsored by different institutions and organizations, this year’s Rhino Charge — which has over the years till now raised more than KSh 1.9 billion ($14.6 million) for these projects — took place on Saturday, June 1, 2024, at the picturesque Torosei, a region nestled between Lake Natron and Lake Magadi in Kenya’s Kajiado County. Here, the event showcased remarkable success, raising KSh 325 million ($2.5 million) for the conservation efforts. 

Rhino Charge Supports Rhino Ark Projects and Environment Conservation Efforts

The Rhino Charge was conceived in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Rhino Ark founder Ken Kuhle, and rally enthusiasts Rob Combes and Brian Haworth mooted the idea of an off-road 4×4 event to support the fencing project carried out by the then-recently established Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust.

 

Rhino Charge is all about doing it for rhinos… and of course conserving the environment.
Photo by @rhino.charge

 

The Trust was committed to saving the dwindling rhino population in the Aberdare National Park, as well as controlling human-wildlife conflicts around the national park. It later sought to also preserve the forest ecosystems and Kenya’s water towers.

On 4 February 1989, 31 competing vehicles entered the first event which Travers Allison won in a Suzuki jeep. While the first Rhino Charge raised only KSh 250,000 ($1,923), this amount increased over the years to reach KSh 181 million ($1,392,252) in the 2018 event. The event is all for the noble cause of ensuring forests are conserved and local communities benefit. Accordingly, the Rhino Ark projects supported by the funds raised from the Rhino Charge, are numerous and enshrined in the philosophy of ‘Humans in Harmony With Habitat and Wildlife.’

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation
Photo by @rhino.charge and @zambarau50

 

Rhino Ark has, up to now, built 650 kilometers of electric fences, ensuring that more than 80,000 families are protected from the dangers of human-wildlife conflicts. These electric fences, also, protect critical mountain forests that are the ‘water towers’ of Kenya.

Likewise, the mountain forest ecosystems support the country’s economic development and the well-being of most Kenyans. The Aberdares, Mt. Kenya, and the Mau Forest – the three mountain ecosystems where Rhino Ark operates – annually provide ecological services to Kenya worth KSh 412 billion ($4.12 billion).

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation
Rhino Charge, an off-road event for the conservation of Kenya’s forest ecosystems and water towers.
Photo by @rhino.charge

 

2024 Rhino Charge: Conservation, Protection and Restoration of Kenya’s Water Towers

The 2024 Rhino Charge competition saw 54 out of a potential 65 competitors, an increase from the previous year’s 52 participants, demonstrating its growing participation and support.

Graham McKittrick, in Car 5, clinched the overall victory, moving up from last year’s third position, followed closely by Sean Avery of Bundu Fundi (Car 38), who maintained his position from the previous year. In third place was Car 33, also known as Team Huzi, entered by Jeremy Holley.

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation
Team Aussie Rules at the Rhino Charge.
Photo by @kevinballoch

 

On Sunday morning – a day after the race – the prizes were presented to the winners in an event graced by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, Soipan Tuya, who represented the country’s President William Ruto.

The ceremony was also attended by Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku, telco Safaricom’s board Chairman and Car 44 driver Adil Khawaja, United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Permanent Representative nominee in Kenya Amb. Gertrude Angote, Kenya Forestry Services (KFS) Chief Conservator of Forests Alex Lemarkoko, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) Director General Dr. Erustus Kanga, and Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board’s Elijah Muli, among others.

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation
Photo by @rhino.charge

 

Cabinet Secretary Tuya commended the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust for its conservation achievements in protecting and restoring Kenya’s water towers. She lauded the fundraising efforts of Rhino Charge competitors and sponsors over the past 35 years. She highlighted the results of the cause, including a significant reduction in forest crimes through initiatives such as the recruiting of 2,700 forest rangers.

Rhino Ark Executive Director Christian Lambrechts also expressed gratitude for the increasing involvement of private companies and government agencies like the Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board in the conservation cause. Steve Outram — the Africa sales manager for breeder Jan Spek Rozen — who participated in the event in Car No. 48 also expressed his delight in participating in the event which is all about conserving Kenya’s forests and water towers, on which local communities depend… just like the hundreds of flower farms across the country!

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation

 

From the funds raised, the local Torosei community received KSh 8.4 million ($64,612) for hosting the event, along with an additional KSh 2 million ($15,384) from President Ruto. These funds are intended to support community projects, especially the construction of classrooms at Torosei Secondary School.

Different Race Category Winners at the 2024 Rhino Charge

Even so, the highlight of the competition’s fundraising efforts was Adil’s remarkable feat, with his car AK44, securing the highest individual fundraising amount for the second consecutive year. He raised KSh 175,100,595 ($1,346,873), surpassing his previous record. Peter Kinyua and his Car 23, secured the second spot, followed by Car 62, entered by Stanley Kinyanjui.

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation
Photo by @rhino.charge

 

Acknowledging his achievement, Adil emphasized the importance of mentoring young environmental protection enthusiasts to ensure the sustainability of conservation efforts.

Other Category Winnings

The Victor Ludorum award, which recognizes both distance covered and funds raised, was claimed by Adil’s AK44, followed by Peter Kinyua’s Car No. 23 and Tim Carstens’ Aussie Rules in Car 63.

In the Modified Class Category, Peter Francombe’s ‘Roving Rogues’ Car 40 emerged victorious, followed by James Boorman’s Car 57 (Team 57), with Adil’s Car 44 (AK44) securing the third position.

John Bowden’s Car No. 9 (Gumtree 4×4) maintained its dominance in the Unmodified Class for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Mark Tilbury’s Car No. 35 (Hog Charge Team) and Nicholas Foley’s Car 4 named Foley Charger.

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation
Photo by @rhino.charge

 

Additionally, the new Half-Charge category saw Car 17, Pumba Patrol by Rishi Chauhan, emerge as the overall winner, followed by Car 58 – Batuk 58 entered by Luke Symonds.

In the Tiger Line 1 category, Car 22 – Smiling Shenzis – entered by Gray Cullen claimed the top spot, with Car No. 5 (Team 5) driven by Graham McKittrick securing second place, and Car No. 33 by Jeremy Holley (Team Huzi) coming in third.

For Tiger Line 2, Mark Glen’s Car 48 – Team 48 secured the top position, followed by Asit Patel with Car No. 26 in second place, and Car 6 – Team Ole Choda entered by Manee Choda in third.

The Gauntlet award recognized Ravi Patel’s Car 11 – Frying Squad as the winner, followed by Jaspal Matharu’s Car 24 – Fat Rhinos in second place and Sean Avery’s Car 38 – Bundi Fundi in third.

 

Rhino Charge: An Exhilarating Race for Environmental Conservation
Team Huzi at the 2024 Rhino Charge
Photo by @rhino.charge

 

Lastly, in the overall Super Modified Class, Team 5 entered by Graham McKittrick in Car No. 5 claimed the top spot, followed by Sean Avery’s Bundi Fundi (Car 38) and Car 33 aka Team Huzi entered by Jeremy Holley.

It certainly, is a race to look forward to! Read more about this race on the website of Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust.

 

Feature and header images by @geco.expeditions.

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