The improvement of wildlife protection system across all National Parks and Game Reserves in the country has seen the poaching trends of Kenya’s endangered species drop drastically.
The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife (CS), Najib Balala, said the system has protected rhinos from poachers, noting that no rhino has been killed since January this year.
He however, announced there is a more recent challenge in dealing with a surge in illegal bush meat trade, as some communities engage in it, in order to mitigate the detrimental effects of Covid- 19 on their livelihoods.
The CS was speaking on Monday when he led Wildlife Conservationists in commemorating the World Rangers’ Day, at the Rangers Monument, at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters, Nairobi, whose theme is ‘Celebrating Self- Sacrifice’ with the hashtag: ‘# OurRangersOurHeroes’.
The World Rangers’ Day is celebrated annually on July 31 to honour rangers globally for their bravery in protecting wildlife and their habitat.
He said, rangers work day and night under all weather conditions and even risk their lives so that the wildlife can thrive.
“Rangers are the cement that binds together the continued survival of our biodiversity,” Balala added.
He also commended the rangers for their dedication and sacrifice to duty, saying that they go beyond patrolling their areas of work.
“They do ecological monitoring of key endangered species, investigative and intelligence duties, ensure visitor security, conduct search and rescue for distressed visitors lost in protected areas,” said Balala as he enumerated their risky duties.
The CS added that rangers also respond to emergencies such as bush firefighting, attend to human- wildlife conflict cases, among other duties for the benefit of communities residing near the parks and assured of the government’s support to rangers across the country.
He at the same time, announced that, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and other stakeholders had started a naming provision of new born rhinos in the parks, where those naming the calves will pay some money which will be put in a welfare fund for rangers.
“We are happy that to date a total of Sh.s.3.3 million has been raised from naming of 33 rhino calves born this year,” said Balala.
Speaking at the event, the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry, Inspector General (Rtd) Joseph Boinnet applauded rangers in the country saying, that their job goes beyond reporting on duty for a pay cheque but a calling.
In his remarks, the Principal Secretary, State Department for Wildlife, Prof. Fred Segor, said conservation was a responsibility of all and not for the rangers alone and called on Kenyans to join hands in preserving their rich heritage.
Prof. Segor announced that the Government had committed Shs.1billion to the salaries of 3,500 community conservancy rangers to cushion them against the economic vagaries brought by coronavirus pandemic.
“The Government is committed to support all rangers in the country in both national parks and reserves and in community conservancies,” Prof. Segor said.
Present at the function were, the Director General, Kenya Wildlife Service, Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru, the Vice Chair, KWS Board of Trustees, Betty Maitoyo, and the CEO, Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, Dickson Kaelo among other stakeholders.
By Kennedy Waziri/Khaduli Bernadette