The Rhino Peak Challenge teams up some of the country’s top trail runners as well as sporting and natural heritage personalities. A total of 24 people will be part of this testing ascent of the 3,051m-high Rhino Peak in the Maloti-Drakensberg Park.
What are the Rhino Peak Challenge aims?
The goal is to contribute towards the conservation of three critically endangered species in South Africa – the black (or hook-lipped) rhino, the white (or square-lipped) rhino, and the bearded vulture.
(Globally, there are another rhino species: the greater one-horned (or Indian), Sumatran (or hairy rhino) and Javan rhinos, all also suffering falling numbers, and some in danger of extinction.)
In celebration of World Rhino Day, the Rhino Peak Challenge’s 24 invited participants will be locked in a race against the clock as they attempt to summit and descend the iconic Rhino Peak as quickly as possible.
The 12 elite trail runners are tasked with beating the respective three and half hour and four hour men’s and women’s cut-off marks. The 12 ‘VIP’ participants do battle against their own self-determined cut-off time.
By utilising their public profile, participants seek to secure pre-race pledges from individuals and corporates alike.
Each pledge is then multiplied by the difference between participants’ cut-off time and their actual race time, with the group’s sum total going to the event’s official beneficiary, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) – split equally between the EWT Sniffer Dog Programme and the EWT Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Programme.
Rhino Peak Challenge history
On World Rhino Day, 22 September 2015, a small group of some of South Africa’s finest trail runners ascended the iconic Rhino Peak in the southern region of the Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage Site.
While establishing new FKTs (Fastest Known Times) for the Rhino was a partial objective the main focus was to raise awareness, in a unique way, to the plight of rhinos as well as the other endangered inhabitant of the Rhino Peak itself, the Bearded Vulture. These two very different creatures are a powerful symbol for South Africa’s threatened species and having these elite runners doing something special on the only peak over 3,000m in the world that resembles a rhino sent an unprecedented message on behalf of the conservation community.
While the 2015 event was relatively low-key it garnered a significant amount of interest on social media and other platforms and it became immediately apparent that the Rhino Peak Challenge had genuine traction and the potential to make a real difference. In light of this it was decided to make the Rhino Peak Challenge an annual event and to elevate its status significantly from 2016 onwards.
Take home messages
- The Rhino Peak Challenge needs you.
- The 2016 Rhino Peak Challenge takes place on World Rhino Day on Thursday 22 September 2016.
- Pledges can be submitted at rhinopeakchallenge.co.za.
Contact: Spurgeon Flemington / Matt Goode