Rhino Ark is a charitable trust registered as a Charity in Kenya, UK (Charity No. 1047083) and the USA (with IRC 501 (c) 3 Status). Founded in 1988 the trust responded to the grave crisis facing Kenya’s Black Rhino population in the Aberdare ecosystem. The Rhino was under severe threat from rampant poaching for their highly-valued horn. Rhino Ark’s initial aim was to build a fence along sections of the Aberdare National Park on its Eastern Salient where the rhino was being mercilessly poached. The Salient borders directly onto farming land. Wildlife was able to maraud at night into the farms bordering the park, destroying crops, creating fear and loss of both revenue and on occasions, lives. This situation fuelled an already volatile community which saw no value in protecting either the wildlife or the forest habitat. Poachers had easy access.
Rhino Ark’s formation was specifically to assist the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to finance a protective fence around the Salient area which has the highest concentration of wildlife in the Aberdares. The initial project idea subsequently evolved into a much more ambitious task of encircling the entire Aberdare Conservation Area with a game proof fence. The fence, strong enough to resist elephant pressure, is powered by electricity to keep wildlife within and curb illegal log extraction, snaring, poaching of wildlife (especially rhino and the rare and elusive bongo) from without. The fence construction work started in 1989 and completed on 28 August 2009. On 12 March 2010, the fence was formally commissioned by the former President of the Republic of Kenya, Hon. Mwai Kibaki.
Construction of the fence has brought harmony between wildlife and farmers around the Aberdare Conservation Area. The farmers now enjoy a peaceful sleep at night without fear of land, crop and house destruction. Over the years, Rhino Ark’s work has evolved towards seeking sustainable, long term solutions to the conservation challenges facing mountain forest ecosystems, and other areas of important biodiversity under threat.
In December 2010, Rhino Ark announced its formal commitment to supporting the conservation of other mountain forest ecosystems. The initial areas of focus are Mount Kenya and Mau Mount Eburu.
For more information on the Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust please visit: www.rhinoark.org
The Rhino Charge is an annual off-road competition held in Kenya in which the entrants are required to visit 13 points (Guard Posts) while travelling the shortest possible distance across difficult, trackless terrain, where speed is not a necessity. The event is organised in order to raise funds for the conservation activities of the Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust.
The event was conceived in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Rhino Ark founder Ken Kuhle, Rally Enthusiasts Rob Combes and Brian Haworth mooted the idea of an off-road event to support the fencing project carried out by the then recently established Rhino Ark Charitable Trust. The Trust was committed to saving the dwindling Rhino population in the Aberdare National Park, as well as mitigating human-wildlife conflicts around the National Park.
A Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the rightful landowners/management with landowner agreement and Rhino Charge officials, a copy of which can be availed on request. It is also necessary to attach to this MoU a copy of the conservancy/community minutes of a meeting confirming the agreement to hold the event which must be attended and recorded by all interested parties.
The funds which are raised for the community come through what we call the LAF (LandOwners Access Fee). Every vehicle which enters the event must have purchased a LAF and they are given a sticker as proof of payment. Payment is made through the online booking system using either MPESA or CARD. The visitors bring their voucher number and present that on arrival and in an exchange are given the LAF sticker which they must display on the windscreen of the vehicle.
The rates per vehicle are:
The total amount raised will depend on the number of vehicles which come to the event, so the amounts cannot be known for sure, but this is usually between KES 4,000,000/- and KES 4,500,000/-.
The conservancy board along with the community will need to have agreed on what the funds raised will be used for and declare this to Rhino Ark before the monies are disbursed. Rhino Ark / Charge prefer that these funds are used for activities which benefit the area or community at large rather than individuals.
The Rhino Charge is a nationally recognised event and receives wide local and international press coverage and exposure, this helps with exposure and awareness for the area and helps to promote tourism and recreational activities. In addition, we promote the sale of traditional beadwork and local crafts and encourage the women’s groups to sell their products at the entry gate. Furthermore, the visitors do purchase sheep and goats from the local community for nyama choma.