Belgian driver fulfils Sh250,000 promise made before WRC Safari Rally

Belgian driver promises €2,000 gift

Belgian driver Thierry Neuville celebrates the victory in the water of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship in Sardegna on June 12, 2016.

Belgian rally driver Thierry Neuville has donated over Sh250,000 (€2,000) to Sheldrick Wildlife Trust as part of his rally-by-rally charity drive.

The 13-time World Rally Championship (WRC) title-holder announced in January last year that he would donate €2,000 at each event as well as contribute double the amount if he finishes either second or third in a race and donate over Sh1,000,000 (€10,000) on any WRC event he wins.

Over the years, there has been a significant decrease in the poaching of elephants and rhinos.

According to the latest poaching statistics from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), poaching is at an all-time low since the onset of Covid-19 that saw travel bans implemented in the country.

In a statement, KWS Director-General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru said: “For the first time in 21 years, KWS reported zero poaching of rhinos in the year 2020. Rhino poaching has reduced from a high of 59 cases in 2013 when poaching was at its peak to zero poaching in 2020. The last time this feat was achieved was in 1999.”

KWS further attributed the achievement in reducing rhino poaching to working with stakeholders like Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, as well as anti poaching and intelligence agencies.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an elephant sanctuary based in Nairobi that operates an orphan elephant rescue and wildlife rehabilitation program in Kenya.

This orphanage was founded in 1977 by Dame Daphne Sheldrick to honor her late husband, David Sheldrick. However, since 2001, it has been run by their daughter, Angela Sheldrick.

Neuville in a tweet revealed that he was really impressed by the conservancy’s efforts to preserve and protect the wildlife in Kenya.

“I’m really impressed and grateful about their work to protect the elephants, rhinos and wildlife in Kenya,” he said.

WRC Safari Rally in Naivasha

In the recently held WRC Safari Rally, Neuville with his co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe were forced to retire, when their car’s rear right suspension shattered.

The pair driving a Hyundai i20 Coupe hit a rock early on Sunday at Loldia, Naivasha.

Neuville had been the class of the field having built up a 57.4 second lead over 13 of the 18 stages and was favourite to win the iconic Kenyan event on its WRC return after a 19-year hiatus.

The two Belgians crawled through the Loldia reaching the finish line with their lead slashed to 11.7 seconds but the damage was unable to be repaired resulting in a cruel retirement.

Neuville vowed to regroup with the entire Hyundai team to come through what’s been a difficult run of form. The i20 Coupe car has led the last four rallies in Croatia, Portugal, Sardinia and Kenya without winning any of them.

“It’s a tough time,” Neuville said immediately after the race.

He added: “As a team [we are] standing together. It’s difficult, but I have to stay with the team. I think I am altogether fighting hard and we’re definitely going to try and find some solution for that problem and fight back harder towards the end of the year.”

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