News / Africa

'Rhino Charge' Assists Conservation Efforts

Jill Craig
Il NGWESI, LAIKIPIA, KENYA - Sixty-two cars participated this month in Kenya’s Rhino Charge, an annual off-road vehicle competition to raise money for environmental conservation in Kenya.

Each team consists of one off-road vehicle, a driver, a navigator, and four runners who dash ahead of the car to remove obstacles and show the drive how to reach the next checkpoint.  There are 13 checkpoints in all; teams have 10 hours to reach all of them, located within about 100 square kilometers of rough terrain.  The goal is to visit the most checkpoints with the lowest number of kilometers.

  • Henrik Rasmussen and other members of Car 54, the Danish team, plot the next day's Rhino Charge by the light of a head lamp and bonfire, June 1, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Rally car pulls into a checkpoint, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Car 20, the Ranger Team, negotiates a hill, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • A runner for Car 11, the Frying Squad, shows his driver how to find the next checkpoint, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Runners for Car 59, Team Randy Kruza, jump onto the back of their car after scouting. Local Masai spectators observe from high ground. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Members of Car 64, Team Garmin, attempt to navigate the terrain, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Car 7 finds its way to the next checkpoint, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Competitors from Car 19, Bushbabes Team 19, one of the few all-female teams at Rhino Charge, take a moment to review coordinates at a checkpoint, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Competitors from Car 54, the Danish team, make a triumphant entry into a checkpoint as fans welcome them, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Car 15, the Benchwarmers, attempts the "Gauntlet," one of the most difficult sections of Rhino Charge, June 2, 2012. The majority of spectators come to the Gauntlet to watch this difficult maneuvering. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Car 54, operated by the Danish Team, stuck uphill, after the completion of Rhino Charge, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Members of the Danish team, Car 54, pushing their car out of the "Gauntlet", June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Spectators at Rhino Charge watch as members of Team Garmin, Car 64, winch their car out of the "Gauntlet," June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)
  • Elephants - some of the many "obstacles" faced by competitors at the Rhino Charge held in Il Ngwesi, Laikipia, Kenya, June 2, 2012. (VOA/Jill Craig)

Many consider the event to be the toughest off-road challenge in Africa.  Of the 62 entrants in this year’s race, only 15 made it to all the checkpoints.

The location changes every year and although they know the approximate area, participants do not know the exact coordinates until the evening before the event.

The Rhino Charge got its name because when a rhino charges, it goes straight ahead, regardless of what may be in its way.

The event was started in 1989 by the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust.  Teams in this year’s race raised a record amount of 84 million Kenyan shillings - about $1 million - to support the conservation of Mt. Kenya and Mt. Eburu.

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