Rugby stars reach summit of Mt Kenya to raise money for elephant conservation

The Saracens players have been carrying the Aviva Premiership trophy on their journey, which was won by the team this season

Emilia Hungerford
Monday 13 June 2016 16:06 BST
The team celebrate reaching the summit of Mt Kenya
The team celebrate reaching the summit of Mt Kenya (Jeff Waweru)

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Five Saracens players have reached the summit of Mount Kenya, the second-highest mountain in Africa, carrying the Aviva Premiership trophy, which was won by Saracens this season, in an effort to raise awareness of the poaching crisis and funds for the elephant conservation charity, Space for Giants. After 3 days of climbing, the players reached the summit, which is close to 5,000 meters, on Saturday 11th June. Saracens, who are based in North London, are the reigning champions of the Aviva Premiership and the current holders of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Former Namibia captain and Saracens flanker, Jacques Burger, who has recently retired from international rugby after a career spanning nine years, says: “This is an opportunity for me to make a difference in my country and Africa as a whole, protecting something I feel strongly about. The biggest challenge in protecting elephants is combating the poaching crisis and we need to address this urgently.”

The other Saracens players include Jim Hamilton, Mike Ellery, Rhys Gill, Nils Mordt and Ben Ransom.

Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, added “this is about the ‘giants of rugby’ protecting the ‘giants of Africa’. Having these formidable and inspiring players take on the challenge of climbing one of the highest mountains in the world, carrying a symbol of their recent achievement, takes us one step closer to achieving our goal - a world where elephants and the landscapes they depend on are protected forever. We are incredibly grateful to Saracens and the players for their support.”

In April, Space for Giants hosted the Giants Club Summit in partnership with the Kenyan Government. The aim was to bring together African heads of state, business leaders, key influencers and conservation experts for the purpose of ensuring a future for elephants and the landscapes they depend on, forever. The summit was an historic moment in the world of global conservation with four Giants Club Presidents of Kenya, Gabon, Uganda and Botswana announcing major conservation interventions for the protection and management of their elephants.

Funds raised from the climb will go towards implementing these conservation interventions, which include the protection of elephants in the wild, the management of human-elephant conflict, and smart new ways to fund the maintenance of key elephant refuges – a ‘toolkit’ of methods pioneered by Space for Giants alongside partner organisations.

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