Kingsley Holgate, Sibusiso Vilane and Phil Liggett have thrown their weight behind the 2016 uBhejane Xtreme MTB Challenge which takes place from Hillcrest to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve on Saturday 10 December and seeks to raise invaluable funding for anti-rhino poaching organization, Project Rhino KZN.
The world renowned trio will all be involved in the gruelling 340km mountain biking event in one way or another and are eager to see the event’s success aid in the success of the survival of the highly endangered species for which the ride stands.
“We are extremely grateful for the commitment all of Kingsley, Sibusiso and Phil have made to our event and cannot wait to have them involved in their various capacities during this year’s ride!” says event organiser, Mark Carroll.
“All three of them stand for wildlife conservation, and rhino protection in particular, in one way or another and their belief in our uBhejane Xtreme serves as a great motivator for us, especially while we’re cycling such a vast distance in just sixteen hours across off-road terrain and often in some really testing conditions,” he adds.
With what is being described as the deadliest time yet for Mama Afrika’s rhino and elephant populations, Holgate – a globally recognized explorer and humanitarian – and his Kingsley Holgate Foundation’s wildlife conservation arm have moved in to help.
“I’ve had the good fortune in my lifetime to adventure to every single country on the African continent where sadly I’ve witnessed the decimation of our wildlife first hand,” explain Holgate.
“The Zambezi Valley, for example, once the stronghold of rhino and now not a single animal left!
“And that’s why I salute those taking part in the uBhejane Xtreme; I salute you for your courage, your tenacity and your fitness to tackle what will arguably become the toughest one day mountain bike events in the world, and all for the preservation of our rhino!
“Good luck and I look forward to seeing you all on the day.”
Vilane touched hearts of millions and inspired a nation on 26 May 2003 when became the first black African to successfully summit the earth’s largest and most fearsome mountain, Everest.
The adventurer and mountaineer is also one of a handful of South Africans, and the first black African, to achieve the feat of climbing each of the Seven Summits – the seven highest peaks on each of the seven continents – and is also a patron of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Leadership Group.
“I’m really looking forward to getting involved in the uBhejane Xtreme this year,” says Vilane ahead of his involvement in the event’s shorter 240km Short Horn ride.
“I will be riding 240km in support of the campaign as this gives me the chance to do something special, something extreme to help these endangered creatures.”
Liggett, the ‘voice of cycling’ the world over, will too take to the saddle on 10 December in support of the uBhejane Xtreme as he and his wife, Trish, complete the final 35km from the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve gate to Hilltop Camp, proudly bearing the colours of their rhino protection organisation, Helping Rhinos.
“There has never been a better time to help these poor creatures because they’re now being hunted to extinction and the poachers have moved in to KwaZulu-Natal!” says Liggett.
“It’s going to be a great challenge and I can’t wait to see everyone on the day.”
The 2016 uBhejane Xtreme MTB Challenge takes place from Hillcrest to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve on Saturday 10 December.