For many the Freedom Challenge, South Africa’s toughest ultra-endurance event, would be a troublesome challenge, but for Ladybrand’s Charles Mansfield it’s a calling. Mansfield will participate in the Freedom Challenge which is to start in Pietermaritzburg and finishes 2 350km later in Paarl. It is a non-stop, unsupported and solo event that takes place in June and July. This mountain bike race is set to really test the mental and physical strength of the riders.
Mansfield has combined his love of mountain-biking and his humanity to help save our rhino population in South Africa.
For Mansfield the end of every month is an absolute nightmare as the month’s statistics for rhino deaths are released.
“It really is a massive problem that needs to be addressed at every level of society. In January, 59 rhino were killed. This means that two rhino are killed a day”, he says. Southern Africa is home to the last remaining population of white and black rhino. It is estimated that 18 700 white rhino and only 1 900 black rhino are currently grazing in many nature reserves in our country.
Numbers have shrinked drastically. Since the start of the poaching epidemic in 2008 South Africa has lost over 1 600 rhino.
According to the Department of Environmental Affaiers a total of 128 rhino have been killed since the beginning of the year.
Mansfield is an ambassador of Project Rhino KZN which is a conservation project that aims to protect rhino.
“Well, I think it goes without saying that we are facing a big crisis and I just thought participating in the Freedom Challenge would be an ideal opportunity to raise awareness,” he says. He is being sponsored by Lancer’s Inn, based in Maseru. They have also made it possible for him to raise funds on behalf of Project Rhino KZN through his participation in the Freedom Challenge race across South Africa.