As a conservation organisation, Rhino Ark is deeply sensitive to minimising any environmental impacts that could derive from its operations. This extends to the Rhino Charge, Rhino Ark’s main fundraising event to support the conservation of Kenya’s ‘water towers’. The Rhino Charge always has and always will take great care to minimise and monitor its footprint. Together with Stanbic, who have enabled independent Environmental Impact Assessments at Rhino Charge venues, it is ensured that the monitoring is comprehensive and scientifically precise. This double-check, conducted to exacting standards, is welcomed by the organisers, participants and sponsors alike, not only as an assurance that the Rhino Charge does no harm but also as insurance that any negative impact which might arise in future can be rapidly identified and remedied.
Mitigating the impact of the competition cars
The format of the Rhino Charge was developed towards minimising the impact of the competition cars on the environment:
- To prevent significant impacts the duration of the competition is limited to 10 hours and only 65 competition cars can participate in the event;
- To avoid cumulative impacts from consecutive events, the Rhino Charge is organised each year in a different location.
In 2008 Rhino Ark commissioned an environmental and social impact audit of representative samples of venues where the Rhino Charge event has been held. The venues assessed were Tassia Ranch (Mukogodo Division, Laikipia), Swuari Lagha (Wamba Division, Samburu), Ol Kinyei Group Ranch (Mara Division, Narok), and Lorongoswa Group Ranch (Kajiado). The audit was carried out by African Conservation Centre. The audit found that there were minimal impacts on the sites arising from Rhino Charge activities. Recommendations arising from the audit were incorporated into subsequent event venues and course designs.
Recycling the waste generated at the venue
One of the main environmental challenges of organising an event with close to 3,500 participants and spectators in the most remote wilderness areas of Kenya is the management of waste. Keeping with Rhino Ark’s conservation mission, the Rhino Charge Committee is committed to leaving each venue as it was found. To this end, stringent rules have been set by the Committee to ensure that no waste is left in the entire Rhino Charge venue. This includes a fine system that is strictly implemented to address waste by competitors. In addition, with the support of key sponsors, waste is collected across the venue, including in the Spectator Camp and at the Gauntlet. To promote waste recycling, a Waste Sorting Station is set up at the venue. Glass, cans and tins, and plastic bottles, among others, are separated and brought back to Nairobi for recycling.
Making the Rhino Charge Climate Neutral
Rhino Ark has committed to making the Rhino Charge climate neutral from 2017 onwards, namely to offset the CO2 emissions related to the event by purchasing corresponding amounts of carbon credits on the market. Rhino Ark purchases offsets to compensate for the CO2 emissions from the Rhino Charge from a carbon project implemented in Kenya that promotes the use of and disseminates improved cooking stoves. As part of this commitment, the Rhino Charge has joined the Climate Neutral Now movement.
Finally, comprehensive post-event reviews of each event site are undertaken in collaboration with the local communities. The organisers’ aim is to leave each venue as it was found.