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University of Leicester Achieves 1st, 2nd and 3rd in major East African biodiversity conservation event

10.07.2008
The University of Leicester has broken new ground - literally - in The Rhino Charge, a major fund raising event to build an electrified fence around the Aberdare National Park in Kenya.

The aim is to protect smallholders from wild animals and the forest and its animals from poachers.

The Rhino Charge involves one day's careful off-road driving - the contestants have to complete a demanding course of about 70km in the shortest possible distance – and usually raises over a million dollars. This year was no exception - with the help of Leicester staff and students.

Leicester is the FIRST university to have its logo on one of the competitor's cars - Dr Sean Avery, who has been entering the race for 14 years is a hydrologist and honorary Fellow of the University of Leicester Geography Department, conducting research with Dr David Harper's Rift Valley explorations project.

David and Sean taught two novel Leicester courses in April, one part of the innovative Interdisciplinary Science degree, making a practical study of issues affecting the sustainability of lifestyles in the Tugen community around Lake Bogoria.

With the help of students from these courses, David's scientific colleagues and his family, Sean raised about £25,000 for Rhino Ark, the charity that manages the fence project. Sean's team came SECOND in the Victor Ludorum award, for the combination of money raised and distance travelled. They travelled the THIRD shortest distance.

David said: “The Aberdares National Park is a vital importance to Kenya - over a third of the population depend upon water from the mountains and forests. About 70% of the flowers and vegetables in British supermarkets are grown from these waters, some of which flow westwards into Lake Naivasha, where the horticulture is based. My team and I have studied this lake for 25 years, and I am a regular contributor to programmmes and debates addressing the sustainability of flying roses and year-round strawberries from the tropics to UK consumers.

”Next year will be Sean's 15th year of entry: his team and its Leicester partnership will be going for FIRSTs all round.”

The research teams at Lake Naivasha and other Rift lakes are open to anybody who wants to spend 3 weeks learning and helping gather data in the most spectacularly beautiful and wildlife-rich place on earth - East Africa's Rift Valley.

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.kenya-rift-lakes.org
http://www.le.ac.uk

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