Slindon Hosts Annual Wildlife Fundraiser

Originally Published: November 2015 Pictures: Tina Hills

The 2015 UK Rhino Charge 2015 took place at Slindon Safari in early September, raising £3325 for wildlife conservation in Africa.

Held annually since 1997, the UK version of Kenya’s famous Charge has moved between locations on a number of occasions since the first event at Tong. Open to all manner of vehicles, it presents teams with a number of navigational challenges as they follow a course taking in a series of checkpoints at which they must complete special tasks.

It’s not intended to be a hardcore off-road challenge – but it still attracts 4x4 drivers from across an enormous spectrum and has a long tradition of patronage from winch competitors looking for a gentler day’s driving.

This year’s competition was nip and tuck, with Ian Purcell’s Team Tusker Toyota Land Cruiser finishing just ahead of Vishal Shah’s Team Crawler in their Range Rover Bobtail Pick-Up, driven by Dash Patel.

Vishal Shah and his team also won the Victor Ludorum award, which is judged on a combination of performance and fundraising. Their prize for this is a free entry into the Kenyan Rhino Charge in 2016 – a very worthwhile reward for their efforts, as the African event is heavily over-subscribed each year.

The purpose behind the Rhino Charge is to help the charity Rhino Ark in its work to protect Kenya’s wildlife and ecosystems. The original goal was to fund the building of an electric fence around the Aberdares National Park, in order to keep animals away from crops and poachers away from animals: this was completed in 2009, and similar fences are underway around Mount Kenya and Mau Eburu. 

John Bowden of Gumtree 4x4, Rhino Charge UK’s coordinator, said: ‘There was a great effort from all the teams who joined us at Slindon Safari, and we raised some much needed funds for Rhino Ark.

‘A fence can seem like a simple response to the hugely important role of conserving one of East Africa’s most famous rhino sanctuaries. But it simply works – and has done for many years now. These 4x4s tearing around a small part of West Sussex have helped protect rhinos and conserve their habitat for years to come.’

Earlier in the year, the Kenyan Rhino Charge was held at Kalepo in Namunyak Conservancy in Samburu County. As seems to be the case every year, a new record was set for the amount of funds raised. With a new system in place for spectator ticketing, the event now contributes an average million dollars a year to Rhino Ark coffers – and more than four million Kenyan shillings was also donated to the hosting community through vehicle access fees.

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