26 October 2010

Uganda: Rafting for the Love of the Rhino


Kampala — There are many things we could do for love. In this case it was for the love wild animals, particularly, the rhinoceros. Nineteen teams of six people each, on Saturday, dared the scary rapids on the upper Nile near Bujagali Falls to raise funds to replenish the depleted rhinoceros.

Uganda used to be home to thousands of rhinos but due to poaching during the years of civil unrest, the last rhino was killed in 1982.

Since 1997, the Government has been working with the Rhino Fund Uganda, a non-governmental organisation, to reinvent the rhino through a breeding programme run at Ziwa Ranchers in Nakasongola district. One of the activities through which funds are raised to run the ranch is the annual Rhino Raft Race.

The race involves water rafting teams competing through the scary rapids near the Bujagali Falls. Last year, 24 teams participated and $10,000 (about sh22m) was raised.

On Saturday, 19 teams participated in the race that was won by Team Wrangler from Twin Tyre Goodyear, followed by the Jinja-based Two Friends restaurant, bar and guesthouse.

All About Uganda, another corporate team, was declared the second runner-up. The Rhino Fund team failed to defend their first position title they earned last year.

Over sh20m was raised. According to Angie Genade, the executive director of Rhino Fund Uganda, previously there were six rhinos on the ranch until this year when three more baby bulls were born. The intention is to raise over 40 rhinos and relocate some to protected areas like Murchison Falls and Kidepo national parks.

Genade said there is need to import more rhinos to speed up the multiplication and build good genetics. However, the lack of funds is still an impediment. She revealed that her agents were talking to senior executives in the UK to raise funds for bringing in 12 rhinos.

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