This weekend, cricketers from across the globe converged on Ol Pejeta Conservancy for a three-day tournament in one of Africa’s greatest wildlife conservation areas to commemorate the life of Sudan, the last known male northern white rhino, and to raise awareness of the plight of the his near-extinct species.
Established in 2015, the Last Male Standing Rhino Cup saw almost 200 cricketers come together on a ground surrounded by wildlife and shadowed by the snow-capped Mount Kenya, to support Ol Pejeta Conservancy and rhino protection campaigns globally.
“There has been a dramatic escalation in rhino poaching in recent years with over 7,000 rhinos killed in the last decade across Africa and shockingly there are now only two northern white rhinos left on the planet,” Tournament Director and founder of the Rhino Cup, Rob Stevenson said.
“The Last Male Standing Rhino Cup is about drawing on the global love for the game of cricket to help combat poaching of the rhino and help raise much needed funds for Ol Pejeta’s conservation work. The passing of Sudan last year, the last male of his species, highlights the need to take action and support the conservancy, which is now home to the last two northern white rhinos left alive,” he added.
Australia, South Africa, Mauritius and the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) fielded teams, along with local Kenyan squads from around Nairobi and Laikipia. The Foundation for Youth Cricket & Education in Kenya, The Obuya Cricket Academy and The East Africa Cricket & Education Foundation were three high-profile charity-related teams taking part.
Not only were BATUK competing, but they were also on hand to provide logistical help and arrived early on the first day to erect the tents used throughout the event.
Ol Pejeta Managing Director Richard Vigne, said he welcomed seeing cricketers from all corners of the world take over an area usually frequented by wildlife for a weekend to shine a spotlight on the conservancy.
“The plight that currently faces the northern white rhinos is a signal to the impact that humankind is having on many thousands of other species across the planet,” Mr. Vigne said.
“Ultimately, our aim is to reintroduce a viable population of northern white rhino back into the wild, which is where their true value will be realised, and the Rhino Cup is a great initiative to support this.”
BATUK were in action on the the second day of the competition, playing two games. Unfortunately, they lost the first but were victorious in a friendly against staff from Ol Pejeta.
The tournament was broken up with an amazing training session for youngsters and beginners alike, coached by South African International and current Essex Captain Simon Harmer.
Dinner at Ol Pejeta House for players and guests rounded off the day including a raffle, draws for the final day’s matches and speeches setting out the great conservation work helping save rhinos in Kenya.
BATUK’s final day proved very successful with the team victorious in both their matches to win the Wooden Spoon Trophy.
Eventual champions of the Rhino Cup were Kanbis Sports Club who triumphed in a tightly contested final against the Obuya Cricket Academy.
Proceeds from the competition will be shared between rhino conservation work and the Foundation for Youth Cricket & Education in Kenya, a charity that helps to transform the lives of thousands of disadvantaged Kenyan children through sport and education.
If you would like to support this fundraiting initiative, you can do so via the Last Male Standing GoFundMe page.