Final preparations for the 28th edition of the Rhino Charge, Kenya’s unique off-road competition have been completed at a location in the untamed wilderness of South Western Kenya.
The venue, which had been secret until Saturday morning, was revealed as Naikarra and Olderkesi group ranches in Narok County.
The venue for the 2016 edition of the Rhino Charge is located on the Naikara and Olderkesi group ranches located in the untamed wilderness of South Western Kenya in the dispersal areas of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The proceeds from the vehicle entry fee (also known as Landowners Access Fee) paid by all vehicles entering the Venue will go towards supporting community projects in the group ranches. These projects may include building of school infrastructure and water tanks, enhancing the management of the conservancy and strengthening security in the area. During the past two years’ event, KES 2.9 million and KES 4.2 million were given to the host communities in Kalama Conservancy and Kalepo (Namunyak Conservancy) respectively. These two conservancies are located in Samburu.
In addition to the direct cash contribution derived from the Landowners Access Fee, the Rhino Charge helps profile the tourism and conservation potentials of the host conservancy. Free medical services are also provided to the host communities by the Rhino Charge medical team led by Dr. Pramod Shah.
Competing teams and their camp operators were pitching tent ahead of the actual adrenalin-charged motorsport racing this Monday, 30th May, 2016.
By Saturday evening, 1500 people, including volunteers and competitors, had been cleared and are now on the muddy site due to ongoing rains.
New entry rules aimed at improving security, securing sustainability of the event, as well as enhancing spectators’ experience have been well received, with thousands having registered by the closing time on the online ticketing portal on 23rd May 2016.
Meanwhile was yesterday, Sunday, the car inspection going on.
The competitor car inspection process known as ‘scrutineering’ was conducted by the event’s officials at the site from 8am to 5pm. The officials were checking, among others, safety features, modification brought to the competing cars, tyre sizes, to ensure a level playing field for all cars competing in the rugged terrain.
Yesterday, the Rhino Charge Organizing Committee also issued a safety notice to all fixed wing aircraft pilots and operators to divert flights to nearby Siana Springs Airstrip due to heavy rains in the past four days. However, helicopters pilots and operators were cleared to land at Naikara Airstrip, 10km away from the venue of the competition.
The Maasai host community of this year’s Rhino Charge are to benefit immensely for providing access to their conservancy as it has become a standing practice wherever the motorsport fundraising event is held.
The Rhino Charge is not only a world renowned motorsport event, but also, and primarily, a major fund raising activity for the conservation of Kenya’s mountain forests, also known as ‘Water Towers’ for being the main sources of water for the country.
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Indeed, since its conception in 1989, the Rhino Charge has raised a staggering amount of KES 1.026 billion towards the conservation of the Aberdare, Mt. Kenya and Mt. Eburu in the Mau Forests Complex. Whilst the first Rhino Charge raised only KES 250,000, this amount increased tremendously over the years to cross the KES 100 million mark in the last two years running, thanks to supporters locally and internationally. Projects funded thanks to the Rhino Charge include the construction of the world longest game-proof fences, such as the completed 400 km Aberdare Electric Fence and the 450 km Mount Kenya Electric Fence currently being built.
This year’s Rhino Charge main events are as follows:
• Sunday, 29th May – Scrutineering (inspection of the Competing Cars)
• Monday, 30th May – Rhino Charge
• Tuesday, 31st May – Prize-giving
The organization of the Rhino Charge is supported through in-kind contribution from the private sector, including some of Kenya’s largest corporations, such as Kenya Commercial Bank, Safaricom, Total Kenya, Nakumatt, Chloride Exide and Highlands Water, to name a few. Their contribution has enabled the reduction of the cost of the event to less than 5% of the total funds raised.