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Government mulls arming community rangers, Mwiraria
Date Published: 15 Oct, 2012
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Chairman, Hon. David Mwiraria, has said that the government is considering allowing trained and vetted community rangers carry firearms to help secure wildlife outside protected areas.
He was speaking while presiding over a graduation ceremony for 75 community rangers at KWS Law Enforcement Academy at Manyani, Taita Taveta County, on Friday (October 12, 2012).
The announcement comes at a time the country is experiencing a resurgence of poaching and trafficking of wildlife products.
“Community rangers are vulnerable to attack by ruthless and armed poaching gangs. We are petitioning the government to allow them carry firearms to help secure wildlife resources within county authorities, private and community owned conservancies,” said Hon. Mwiraria.
Veteran conservationists Dame Daphne Sheldrick and Kuki Gallman graced the ceremony.
To date 1075 community rangers have been trained at the facility in a bid to capacity build wildlife security and management personnel from conservancies across the country. The subsidized training covers wildlife management, Management Information System (MIST), Basic paramilitary skills, fire-fighting skills among other areas. It is envisaged that this training equips them with skills in addressing wildlife conservation challenges in the 21st Century.
KWS and Community rangers conduct joint patrols that guarantee a force multiplier in wildlife security operations.
Hon. Mwiraria observed that over 50 per cent of wildlife resides outside protected areas. He said that these landscapes are an important part of Kenya’s conservation efforts, and generate both economic and environmental benefits.
“By recognizing and enhancing collaborative partnerships between the government and stakeholders, we can improve the benefits that accrue from this sector,” he noted.
Speaking in the same ceremony Ben Kavu, KWS Deputy Director for Wildlife and Community Service division, noted that the enactment of proposed wildlife bill will herald a new chapter in the governance of wildlife resources in the country. He pointed out wildlife industry governance framework, mitigation of human wildlife conflict and enhanced penalties for illegal poaching as significant provisions in the new dispensation.
He pointed out human-wildlife conflict, poaching, declining space for wildlife, limited technical and financial capacity to manage wildlife, limited wildlife education and awareness and slow implementation of land use policies as key challenges affecting conservation outside protected areas.
Besides training of community rangers, KWS has dispensed Ksh.150 million in the past year to fund community initiatives for provision of water, health facilities and education through construction and upgrading of school infrastructure.
Already KWS Law Enforcement Academy is conducting training for security officers from Kenya Airport Authority, Kenya Port Authority, and Kenyatta National Hospital.