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KWS, NRT perform cleaning exercise in Marsabit

The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) has spent more than Sh200 million in supporting conservation and peacebuilding efforts in Marsabit County.

NRT Marsabit County Director Dida Fayo said the organisation has helped establish four community-run wildlife conservancies in the county with a view to enabling the residents to make more prudent use of the rangelands.

Fayo was speaking during celebrations to mark World Ranger Day held in the county, where Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and community conservancy personnel undertook a cleaning exercise that saw Marsabit town shed tonnes of garbage.

The Director said that through the conservancies, security in the area had been improved and employment opportunities created, even as the community was generally benefiting from other social programmes being offered by the organisation, including education bursaries.

“NRT has also been driving an initiative to foster understanding and trust among members of local communities, who are now coexisting peacefully and sharing resources amicably,” he said.

Fayo asked the county government to fast-track the registration of Shurr, Milako, Songa, and Jardesa conservancies in order to open up the projects for more growth and sustainability purposes.

The conservancies, which are a host to thousands of wild animals, are now dependent on donor funding, hence the need to put in place mechanisms that would enable the projects to continue running even after the benefactor pulls out of the programme.

The occasion, which was graced by County Commissioner Nobert Komora, KWS head of the northern conservation area senior Assistant Director Gideon Kebati and the Marsabit County Government Chief Officer for Environment Pauline Lekarwezi enabled stakeholders to conduct activities to create awareness on climate change and the conservation of wildlife.

A tree planting exercise was carried out at the Marsabit Park headquarters, with Kebati underscoring the need for concerted efforts to reverse the effects of climate change.

The director noted that the recent drought that nearly wiped out the livelihoods of local pastoralist communities also killed many wild animals.

However, Kebati pointed out that conservation of forests and other animal habitats could help in the regeneration of pasture and water, thus reducing the current stiff competition between wild animals and livestock over the same.

The conservationist disclosed that rangers were experiencing many challenges in the course of their duties, for instance, constant attacks by poachers and working long hours because the staffing levels were not yet optimal.

On his part, the county commissioner said the government was striving to optimise staffing in order to ensure that enforcement of conservation laws was effectively enforced.

Komora called on residents to support the protection of the local national heritage, which is said to have fetched more than Sh5 million in revenue last financial year.

“Peace building efforts are bearing fruit, and the recovery of tourism in this region is on track,” he said, adding that security was key for the sector to thrive because visitors and investors needed to be assured of their safety.

In her remarks, Lekarwezi said the devolved unit was keen to ensure water towers, forests, and wildlife were protected.

She said community forest associations were being established to assist in that endeavour and appealed to local communities not to kill wild animals for whatever purpose.

This, the chief officer said, was the only way the community could show gratitude for the sacrifice and dedication displayed by game rangers, despite the many challenges that they faced in their course of duty.

By Sebastian Miriti

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