Homa Bay men boat paddlers emerged winners at the 5th edition of the Lake Victoria Sitatunga Boat Race at the Bumbe Beach, Busia County.
They took the trophy for keeps having won for the third time in a row and the accompanying Ksh100,000, sponsored by the Busia County government. They used a boat named ‘Maende’ in honour of Ms Mary Maende, the Kenya Wildlife Service Homa Bay County Warden.
Busia men teams took positions two and three, who were given Ksh60,000 and Ksh40,000, respectively, also sponsored by the Busia County government.
The women’s boat race was won by Busia County in a boat named ‘Tisho’ followed by Siaya County in a boat named ‘Kaswa’ while the third position was taken by Homa Bay County in ‘Odanga’ boat, who were awarded Ksh100,000, Ksh60,000 and 40,000, respectively, all provided by Busia County government.
The event was presided over by Mr Mongo Chimwaga, the Busia County Commissioner, who called on the public to take care of the endangered sitatunga semi-aquatic antelope.
Mr Philip Abondo, the Siaya County Tourism Officer, said the Siaya County government had offered to host the 2016 edition of the regional boat race.
This year’s event was almost marred by the capsizing of the Siaya men’s boat, which was rescued by Kenya Wildlife Service rescue team led by Corporal Hassan Ali. However, no one was injured in the incident due to the swift response.
The race organised by Kenya Wildlife Service in conjunction with stakeholders seeks to raise funds to conserve the rare sitatunga antelope and create public awareness about the region’s conservation and tourism potential. It’s also meant to create a unifying water sport for the five counties around Lake Victoria.
The race also gives the participating stakeholders a chance to showcase their products and activities as well as highlight the potential of the counties around Lake Victoria as tourism investment and attraction destinations.
The event also brings together members of the local communities and corporate organisations in the Lake Victoria basin to display their culture.
Key sponsors of this year’s event included Equator Bottlers, Kenya Investment Authority, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Mumias Sugar Company, Lake Victoria Tourism Association, Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority and the hosting county of Busia.
The profiling of the counties’ tourism potentials and promotion of less visited wildlife is in line with Vision 2030 development blueprint that seeks to make tourism a leading sector, making it among the best tourist destination in the world offering a high-end, diverse, exclusive and distinctive visitor experience.