The rugged Tugen hills, an important tourist attraction in Baringo, played host to one of the toughest motor challenge events in the world – the Rhino Charge 2011. A fund-raising event held every year to raise money for the protection of the rhino, this year’s event raised a record KES 77,311,364.
This 23rd edition of the Rhino Charge also marks a departure from the traditional beneficiaries of the funds raised and will see more attention and resources going towards the fencing of Mount Kenya and Mau Eburu, one of the 22 forest blocks of the expansive Mau forest, forests.
This year’s location, the Tugen hills was aptly chosen because Saimo, as they are also known, represent one of the few areas in Africa preserving a succession of deposits dating back between 14 and 4 million years ago. This has made them an important location for the study of human (and animal) evolution.
Excavations at the site conducted by Richard Leakey and others in 1967 have yielded a complete skeleton of a 1.5-million-year-old elephant. Two years later a new species of monkey and fossil remains of hominids believed to be between 1 to 2 million years old were found here. One of the oldest bipedal hominins, Orrorin tugenensis, was discovered here and subsequently named after the location.
It is in these ancient hills with a rich historical and archaeological past that Mark Glen, co-driven by Bryn Llewellyn, drove the shortest time and distance to scoop the top position in the modified vehicles category having covered a distance of 42.2 KM.
Of the 58 participants flagged off, 22 completed all 13 guard posts. Mark Glen in car number 48 was flagged-off in the third position. Torben Rune in car number 28 won the unmodified category coming 9th overall with a distance of 67.3 KM.
Caroline Armstrong of Car 18 made the ladies proud by winning the Chris Nicklin Coupe des Dames award for finishing all 13 guard posts with a distance of 61.4 KM. The ladies had 3 teams represented. In a Toyota FJ 15 was the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Rob Macaire in car number 15.
The 400 KM long Mount Kenya fence may be equal to or longer than the now completed Aberdare fence that protects an area of over 2,000 KM2. The fence will take about 5 years to be completed to the tune of KES 1 billion.
Mau Eburu will be 50 KM long and will cost KES 100 million encircling about 80 KM2 of a pristine forest- greatly endangered by illegal loggers. Mount Kenya and Mau Eburu are strongholds of the critically endangered Eastern Mountain Bongo antelope.
Have you competed in any Rhino Charge event? We would love to hear first-hand experiences of this amazing event. Leave a comment below.