Message from Kenneth Donaldson, Director:
This month, I should have been taking part in the For Rangers Ultra: a 5-day, 5-marathon epic through one of the most stunning wildlife areas in the world: Laikipia County in Kenya. What makes the For Rangers Ultra special is that the route takes us through four of the black rhino conservancies that Save the Rhino has supported for years, which collectively have an amazing rhino breeding and protection record.
What makes it even more special is that the funds raised by participants are put to great and relevant use: 35% stays with Save the Rhino International, the charity of which I am proud to be a Patron, to allocate to field programmes in Africa and Asia; the other 65% is ring-fenced for the For Rangers initiative, which makes grants to support African rangers entrusted with looking after the world’s wildlife. By improving rangers’ welfare, they feel invested in their work; with their families looked after and better equipment to do their job, they will be safer, happier, more effective and ultimately less likely to help poaching syndicates.
Covid-19 has meant that we’ve had to adapt our plans. Instead of the foothills of Mt Kenya, I will be navigating my way through Hampshire and Wiltshire:
Friday 18 Sept: Ashe Park to Winchester, via Candover Valley and Itchen Abbas
Saturday 19: Winchester to Laverstoke Grange, via King’s Somborne, Leckford and Longparish
Sunday 20: Laverstoke Grange to Inkpen, via Litchfield, St Mary Bourne and Linkenholt
Monday 21: Inkpen to Silchester, via Kintbury, Newbury and Aldermaston Wharf
Tuesday 22: Silchester to Ashe Park, via Tadley and Kingsclere
Rather than keeping a wary eye on herds of elephant, startling antelope and avoiding stepping on snakes, I will be fighting my way through nettles and contending with the vagaries of the UK’s autumn weather.
Some things will remain the same: around a marathon per day, camping out at night, the anticipated state of my feet by the end of Day 5 and, of course, our world famous rhino costume, that my four fellow ultra-marathoners and I will wear on Tuesday 22 September: World Rhino Day.
Fundraising this year is even more important than usual. The total loss of international tourism income in all the countries in which we work has the hit field programmes very hard. All of them have had to make budget cuts, whether to salaries or vehicle patrol hours; all of them have had to pay for extras like facemasks and hand sanitisers. Save the Rhino has been able to raise significant funding for the sites we support, but the forced postponement of the 2020 London Marathon and
of the ‘live’ For Rangers Ultra means that we must now pull out all the stops to raise replacement funds..
I’ll be back in Kenya in September 2021, Covid-19 permitting, to do the real thing. But in the meantime, any sponsorship you can spare for “Not the Kenya Ultra 2020” would be very gratefully received. Finally, here is a snap from when I ran the Kenya Ultra in 2018, its inaugural year…. Meeting an orphan