A mountainous challenge for a very good cause
May 24 2013

Next month I am going to tackle - and hopefully conquer - Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa, on a private climb with my husband Mark to raise funds for the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT). 

As ALERT’s Development Coordinator responsible for fundraising, I couldn’t be more aware of just how much this money is needed.  Unless we act now, we could lose the king of beasts forever.  With the African lion population falling by an estimated 80 to 90% in less than 40 years, the continuation of ALERT’s work towards the conservation of this iconic species is vital.  The Ngamo release pride at Antelope Park, Zimbabwe now has five second-generation cubs that will one day be released into the wild.  These cubs are living proof that ALERT’s approach is working but, as a charity organisation, without further funding we simply cannot continue to make progress.  That is why I am determined to battle through blistered feet, aching legs and exhaustion in order to raise as much money as possible.  I need your help to make it happen. 

One of the highlights of our second visit to Antelope Park in 2011 was spending time with the Ngamo release pride; a real privilege

My first experience of ALERT was, like many people’s, as a volunteer at Antelope Park, having watched the program ‘Lion Country’ in the UK.  Once back home, I knew my life was never going to be the same again.  After running the ALERT Intern Program for 18 months as a volunteer, in September last year, I joined the team as a full-time member of staff.  As the Intern Program Manager and Development Coordinator, I couldn’t be happier or more fulfilled; spending my days helping interns to experience the projects for themselves, or contacting our supporters is a constant reminder of how ALERT’s work is touching so many other lives, just like mine.

Along with falling in love with lions, my experiences with ALERT have made me fall in love with Africa too.  To stand at the highest point in the whole of this magnificent continent will no doubt reduce me to tears.  It will be a major challenge; I’m not naturally particularly fit and active, but the achievement of climbing Kilimanjaro represents just how far I have come – with ALERT’s help – since the day I first arrived at Antelope Park.

Chundu - I bottle-fed this guy as a cub in 2010. Now look at him less than two years later when I caught up with him at Victoria Falls

Please help to make my physical and mental pain worthwhile by visiting my JustGiving page at: http://www.justgiving.com/HelenRenniehatesmountains.  Your donation, however small, will make a big difference and will go 100% directly to ALERT’s work.  Thank you from you bottom of my heart (and my aching feet) for your support.

An Africa without lions is an Africa that has lost its soul. We cannot be the generation that allows this to happen.


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