Over 800 school children participated in the just completed 2-week long 400 kilometre 2nd annual Aberdare Fence Relay Run. The event is organized by Rhino Ark and Kenya Wildlife Service to raise awareness of the Aberdare Fence project and conservation of the Aberdare ecosystem protected by the fence.
Olympic Marathon Champion runner Tegla Loroupe flagged off the run on 14 June 2011 at Bondeni, Mweiga and handed over the Relay Baton to the first of the 88 participating schools. Schools along the boundary of the nearly 400km long Aberdare fence eagerly participated in the run, with each providing ten pupils and one teacher. Pupils were selected by their schools on merit, either academic or sporting, and this added competitive spice to their participation.
The Run Baton was carried by each school team from its own school, over several kilometres of the often hilly Aberdare terrain and presented to the next participating school. Over the next two weeks, the schoolchildren ran, counterclockwise along the fence, over hills, valleys and mighty rivers, often within sight the forest and wildlife safe behind the fence. By 30 June, they had completed a massive loop that encircled the 2,0002 km ecosystem. Rhino Ark’s Eric Kihiu and Kenya Wildlife Service Aberdare Education Officer Joyce Kurui received the Relay Baton from the final school, Amboni Secondary, at the fence line in Bondeni Mweiga.
The Fence Run, now in its 2nd year was received positively by the local communities, and the schoolchildren are looking forward to next year’s event. Caroline Wangui, a Class 8 Pupil at Talau Primary was among the pupils who took part in the run. Speaking to Rhino Ark afterwards she said, “If there was no fence, the whole forest would be destroyed, we would have no food and would still live in fear of being attacked by wild animals when going to school or the market. The fence has taught me that if we come together, we can achieve great things – we can take care of our environment for the benefit of all of us.”