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Community wildlife rangers report for training at KWS academy
Date Published: 16 Jul, 2012
KWS Board of Trustees Chairman Hon David Mwiraria inspects a parade mounted by the community rangers at the KWS Law Enforcement Academy during a community pass-out parade held earlier this year. With him is Faculty Commander, Salim Abdallah (right) and KWS Director, Julius Kipng’etich.
Community wildlife rangers from various parts of the country at the weekend reported to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Law Enforcement Academy in Manyani for a three-month training course.
Presiding over the opening ceremony, the Coast Conservation Area Assistant Director Mr Simon Gitau said the training was part of other support KWS provides to the more than 100 conservancies to enable them to manage wildlife in a better way.
Mr Gitau said previous community trainees had shown remarkable contribution to efforts to tackle human wildlife conflict, wildlife and visitor security as well as efforts to curb bush meat trade.
He said apart from learning how to manage ecotourism enterprises, communities benefit from management planning and other technical advice on the running of conservancies.
He called on more communities to set aside their land for wildlife conservation and pledged KWS support for such initiatives.
“Conservancies are the future of wildlife conservation and communities and private land owners are key to this future,” he said.
Mr Gitau was accompanied by KWS senior officials, including Mr Wilson Korir, the Assistant Director for Tsavo Conservation Area and Ms Munira Bashir, the Head of Community Enterprise Development.
The training of 75 community rangers at the academy located in Tsavo West National Park is part of the KWS corporate policy of building the capacity of communities and privale land owners to establish and sustainably manage private and community wildlife conservancies.
“Communities are key partners to the government as they provide additional space for wildlife conservation beyond national parks and reserves and we would like them to have the same standards as KWS rangers,” she said.
Community wildlife rangers work jointly with KWS rangers in man operations, including problem animal control, intelligence sharing as well as visitor and wildlife security.
The move is critical to sustainable wildlife conservation and management outside protected areas as KWS seeks to increase its efforts in engaging communities to secure more space for wildlife.
Community cooperation is regarded as essential for the success of conservation activities as the majority of these lands are used in ways that are in conflict with wildlife conservation.
The main issues that affect conservation outside protected areas include human-wildlife conflict, wildlife insecurity, space for wildlife, limited technical and financial capacity to manage wildlife as a viable enterprise, limited wildlife education and awareness and slow implementation of land use policies.
With proper incentives given to community and private land owners who adopt wildlife as a form of land use, land use practices that are incompatible with wildlife conservation can be minimized or confined to appropriate areas. This is achieved through capacity building, education awareness and creation of synergies with other conservation stakeholders.
The three month course will see the community rangers trained in wildlife education, counter terrorism, fitness training, drills, general law, GPS and Management Information Systems (MIST) among other disciplines.
The initiative spearheaded by the KWS Community Enterprise Development Department has so far trained 606 community rangers. Earlier this year, KWS trained 326 community rangers. The course programme has managed to immensely tap into abundant indigenous knowledge from a wealth of field experience for conservation purposes.