In a response to the alarming increase in rhino poaching, 10 Durban women are to make a stand by tackling Kenya’s gruelling Lewa marathon in an attempt to raise R1 million for rhino conservation in Africa.

Under the banner “Celebrate Life 2012”, they have chosen the Tusk Foundation to receive funds they hope to raise in the next five months.

Team leader Cherry Armstrong said: “In the first six weeks of this year, at least 54 rhinos have been poached for their horns. It is a chilling statistic and we all need to do whatever we can to preserve our rich heritage.

“The Tusk Foundation, whose patron is Prince William, is a respected worldwide organisation that raises funds for anti-poaching projects to help save the rhino and elephant throughout Africa. The trust also supports rural settlements and the education of local people in wildlife conservation.”

The members of the team have entered for the 21km event in Safaricom Marathon and Half Marathon on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on June 30, but are not runners.

“The common thread is that we believe in the cause and want to make a difference by raising not only funds but awareness,” Armstrong said.

“Last year 448 rhinos were killed by poachers – 115 more than in 2010 and three times the number killed in 2009.

“The Celebrate Life 2012 team strongly believe we cannot just stand by and let the senseless destruction continue without trying to do our bit.”

The team has planned several fund-raising events for the next five months, including a ladies’ day, golf day, wine auction, rat race, flag signing and raffle.

Armstrong, who is a nursing sister specialising in palliative care for cancer patients, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with 12 women in 2005 to raise money for Hospice.

On this fund-raising adventure, she is to be joined by Catrina King and Lara Plumtree, both mothers of three boys, property consultant Mandy Hughes, brand manager Berna Janse van Rensburg, guesthouse owner Cheryl Burger, company director Jannine Boyes, hospitality expert Michelle Blake, Sharks PR and communications manager Megan Harris, and journalist Debbie Reynolds. - The Mercury

***The team are appealing to individual and corporate sponsors for donations, which may be made through their fund-raising number 803118 to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/life2012. For more information about events and sponsorship, write to Cherry Armstrong at [email protected]