NAIROBI, Kenya, July 3 – The 15th Safaricom Marathon was not all about watching world-class runners battle it out for the title or supporting wildlife conservation, but it saw two conservancies, Lewa and Borana merge to form the largest private rhino sanctuary in the country.,
This means when the fence that is separating the two is brought down some 93,000 acre will be available for rhino habitat compared to 61,000 that Lewa used to operate with since 1984.
According to the two conservancies CEOs, the move will enable them reach their target of having 100 black rhinos that will raise the number of tourists through the annual marathon that has raised the profile of the conservancy.
“Lewa started essentially with a small area by collecting all the rhinos that were isolated in the northern Kenya and since then it has been hugely successful and the number has increased of course with the help of the marathon that has contributed a lot.
“The biggest threat was lack of secure habitat for the rhinos and by us coming on board we have added 50 percent more to the existing Lewa ecosystem,” Borana Managing Director Michael Dyer told Capital FM News.
“We have an elaborate plan on how it’s going to work and we will not have challenges since we share a lot of resources and common goal.
“In the next few weeks we will be bringing down the fence between the two properties that will assist us protect more endangered species like the elephants and the rhinos from poachers so it’s a big achievement joining hands with Borana,” Lewa Conservancy CEO, Mike Watson declared.
Over the last two years, 21 rhinos were introduced into Borana with 11 coming from Lewa while 10 were brought from Nakuru National Park through the assistance of the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS).
“We give tribute to KWS who have overseen this process. Without their support we could not have achieved this… so it’s a great partnership between the private and public sector,” Dyer added.
The partnership will create connectivity from Mt Kenya through a corridor in the Ngare Ndari forest into Lewa, then Borana to Samburu.
Cause for the marathon
Back to the main cause of the marathon which is to raise funds that will go towards educational programmes, infrastructure and healthcare in the vast regions of Laikipia and Isiolo Counties.
The event’s popularity has grown and there is no doubt about that, but for this year’s race all attention was emphasized on raising funds to protect the endangered species under the theme “Running in the Wild for the Wild’.
Indeed participants ranging from as old as 76 to children below the age of 15 responded to the call with immediate effect that saw the registration closed within three days from the time it was opened in late February, something that has never happened since its inception in 2000.
With the event only accommodating 1,200 participants, for some of the competitors they fought for the slot not even having a clue why they were running in one of the world’s toughest course rather than to claim the title and pocket the Sh150,000 (USD 1,700) prize money.
Last year organisers collected Sh36.8m (USD 425,000) and this year Watson was optimistic they will even go beyond their Sh50m (USD 578,169) target.