When it was announced that the WRC Safari Rally was finally coming back to our shores after a 19 year absence, Kenyans myself included were elated. This is what led to a massive turnout in Naivasha as fans showed up in their numbers to catch a glimpse of the international drivers as well as support the local rally drivers.
The event was a success with reports indicating that it was the most viewed sports event this year across the world. The international drivers also loved the challenge that the Safari Rally threw at them and vowed to be back next year for more action.
However, with success, there are always challenges and in this case the organizers had to deal with a bigger number of people than they had anticipated. This was further compounded by the fact that the event was held in areas which have wildlife such as Kedong, Oserengon, Loldia, Malewa, Soysambu, Longonot National Park and Hellsgate National Park and the Rally Service Park at Kenya Wildlife Research and Training Institute (KWRTI). As such there were concerns that the human activity would have an adverse negative effect on the wildlife. This is because whenever there are crowds one can expect that there will be cases of noise pollution, improper garbage disposal among others.
Dr Patrick Omondi, Deputy Director at KWS and Principal at KWRTI, had this to say, “Prior to the rally, we mapped the animal routes, their distribution patterns and crossing areas. We thereafter placed environmental marshals in all these routes so as to ensure that there would be no human wildlife conflict which was very effective. As such I am happy to report that there was no negative impact on the environment and in particular no animals were killed or harmed during the rally. We also decided to manipulate the environment by planting grass in any open space which had been as a result of the rally like the helipad. We planted grass which is palatable to the animals and which they are enjoying.”
Francis Muchiri, Senior warden at Hells Gate, indicated that there was an elaborate line of defense put up from a multi agency team, which was comprised of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers, National Police and the National Youth Service to ensure both the public and animal were safe.
On matters garbage collection, WRC Kenya had an environmental committee which was formed to tackle the issue. It comprised of Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), representation from the conservancies, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Nakuru County and the WRC safari Rally Kenya officials.
During a post rally tour of the routes that were used during the rally, we managed to confirm that the place where the rally took place were clean and free from any debris. As a matter of fact, had the arlly not been heavily covered, one would have been hard pressed to explain that such a major sporting event took place in the areas as there was nothing on the ground indicating the same.
So how did they pull it off?
There was signage at the event which encouraged people to dispose their waste responsibly and avoid littering. A team of 50 environment marshals comprising of county environment officers, NEMA EIA experts and volunteers sensitized the public on the need to put their waste in thegarbage bags and bins that were provided
At times people litter due to the fact that they don’t have a place to dispose their waste. To counter this, the organisers of the event had provided enough waste bins around the venue which made it easier for people to comply with the rules.
Litter Collection Teams
Over 1,000 people were deployed in the event as part of the cleaning teams so as to collect the litter. These guys moved round periodically to pick up litter as the event was ongoing, this ensured that there was no litter which was left lying around the spectator sites. It also made the final cleanup after the event had ended way easier.
As we all know, toilets are essential when organizing an event more in the wild to prevent cases of people polluting the environment. The event organizers not only ensured that there were enough toilets to serve the needs of the spectators but also human waste digestor system was available to ensure all the mobile toilets were available for use.
Apart from ensuring that the waste collected was recycled, the WRC Safari Rally team will be planting over 19 million indigenous trees in the places where the rally is held as part of efforts to revitalize the environment and also offset the carbon emissions from the event.