When a DC-8 freighter touched down at JKIA on the night of January 29, 2004, it had 18 “odd” passengers on board.
18 mountain Bongo’s bred in the US were finally making their way to the Kenyan wild terrain. The Mountain Bongo – a close cousin to the gazelles – was on the verge of extinction and conservation efforts had been tirelessly working to save the species.
The efforts to breed and repatriate the critically endangered bongo finally witnessed a major milestone.
[caption caption="Past edition of Tusk’s Safaricom Marathon"][/caption]
The Bongo Surveillance Program in Kenya estimates that there are as few as 140 Bongos left in the wild.
Even though the numbers are seen to be below a minimum sustainable population, over 13,000 marathon enthusiasts from across the globe have been gathering every year in Lewa Conservancy, Kenya, to ensure that the Mountain Bongo conservation turns into a success story through the Tusk’s Safaricom Marathon.
[caption caption="Women who are part of a group of 300 beadwork artisans at Kalama Conservancy "][/caption]
Marking its 19th edition on Saturday, June 30, 2018, the Safaricom Marathon exemplifies what it means to succeed against all odds.
Other than the Mountain Bongo success story, the marathon has been supporting the conservation of other highly endangered species including the Black Rhino, the Leather-back Turtle and Grevy’s Zebra.
Funds raised through the Marathon have been supporting various noble projects including the Lewa Conservancy, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and Watamu Turtle Watch.
The marathon has also benefited community initiatives on education, healthcare, employment and economic empowerment.
Lewa Conservancy CEO Mike Watson stated, “The marathon’s phenomenal impact is far reaching across Kenya and the awareness it raises for our beneficiaries’ projects spans across the globe, an achievement that everyone at Safaricom, Lewa and Tusk Trust is tremendously proud of. We have proven that when we run together, we can protect our future.”
For over 19 years, the marathon has raised over Ksh 675 million through the steadfast support of various partners.
As a tradition, Safaricom – the title sponsor, has been donating Ksh. 14.8 Million to the Lewa Marathon.
[caption caption="Beneficiaries of Safaricom Lewa Marathon"][/caption]
For everyone who runs, whether in the 5KM Children’s Fun Run, the Half Marathon (21KM) or the Full Marathon (42KM), every participant is part of the phenomenal impact of protecting the future.
Last year, Philemon Baaru successfully defended his title in the full marathon while Margaret Lepakana won the women’s title. Philemon Kiprono dominated the men’s Half Marathon while the women’s 21km race went to Betty Karambu.
Let us all look forward to running for a good cause.
[caption caption="Running in the wild for the wild"][/caption]
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