(Rafting for Rhinos 2011 book your own date for 2012)
The Raft for Rhinos races on the upper Nile last weekend have according to Angie Genade, Executive Director of the Rhino Fund Uganda and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary raised about 23 million Uganda Shillings, a significant boost for the sanctuarys ability to reach financial self sustainability.
The races were won by a team from the Peace Corps, with their supporters proudly waving the American flags, while runners up were the Rhino Rangers Ziwas own team followed by the team fielded by adventure company G&C Wild Frontiers and The Kjongs coming in fourth overall.
Hundreds of expatriates, company executives and many spectators from the area around Jinja came to witness the spectacle. Representatives from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre and Ngamba Island our national chimpanzee refuge were also present as were senior members of the tourism fraternity who had helped to promote the event.
(Competing teams making their way to the rapids / Picture courtesy of Angie Genade, RFU)
Equally important though from the conservation standpoint, was the raising of awareness across the country of the presence of the prized animals in Uganda and the breeding programme which the Rhino Fund Uganda has made possible with the construction and establishment of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, strategically located en route to the Murchisons Falls National Park where literally all of Ugandas tourists pass.
The initially imported 6 adult Southern White Rhinos, three male and three female were since then joined by 4 babies, three male and the latest birth a few weeks ago a much celebrated female, while the two other female adults are also due to give birth again between October and the end of the year.
Protection measures for the rhinos have been significantly stepped up by the sanctuary and the armed guards, under the disciplinary supervision and operational guidance of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, are deployed 24 / 7 to protect the growing herd. Adds this correspondent in closing: in my capacity as the immediate past chairman of the Rhino Fund Uganda this makes me particularly proud, to see Ugandas business and NGO community rally around RFUs objectives and extending such splendid support, financially and morally. RFU has now demonstrated that the breeding programme we established many years ago has been successful and it is time for our international friends and supporters to assist us in bringing in a breeding stock of Eastern Black Rhinos, a species originally found in Uganda, so that both species can eventually be restored to the national parks when the numbers in Ziwa so permit.