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German NGO starts Fund to aid fallen KWS rangers’ families

Date Published: 17 Dec, 2013
German NGO starts Fund to aid fallen KWS rangers’ families

Rangers bow their heads in honour of departed colleagues during the annual KWS Heroes’ Day observed on the 16th of December. Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu (Centre) was the chief guest during this year’s event at KWS headquarters.

A Berlin-based wildlife Biodiversity conservation organisation has started a fund to financially support dependants of Kenya Wildlife Service rangers killed or injured in the line of duty.   

The fund with initial funding of 50,000 Euros (About Ksh 5.5) follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the International Foundation for Nature (NABU) and KWS in which NABU will grant 10,000 Euros (Ksh1.1 million) annually in the next five years to assist children of the fallen wildlife heroes pursue education. KWS and NABU will seek the support of lovers of nature globally to contribute and grow the fund.  

So far, a total of 61 rangers’ names have been inscribed on the heroes’ monument at KWS headquarters, with four new ones added to the roll of honour since December last year.  

Details of the MOU were made public yesterday by Mr Werner Shroeder from NABU at the annual Conservation Heroes’ Day marked on December 16th every year since 2005.

Mr Werner said the support “cannot and is not supposed to replace a human life or the state of health”, noting that it wasn’t possible to compensate the sacrifices made by rangers and their families.

“The payment is supposed to be recognition of the courageous commitment for nature and wildlife,” Mr Werner said.

Mr Werner said without dedicated rangers “we would have no protected areas in Kenya or Africa.”, adding that: “One of our key working elements is environmental education for the youth. Those who will protect nature when we are no longer there.”

He noted that although NABU International was unable to undo or reduce the loss or injury to wildlife defenders families, “the work of rangers in Africa is very highly appreciated in Germany and Europe in general. Nature lovers appreciate the work of rangers very much because people understand that rangers in Africa do work and risk their life for all of us. 

NABU, www.nabu.de, is the biggest and oldest conservation organization in German having started in 1899. It has 500,000 members and 30,000 volunteers with 16 regional branches in every state of Germany. The organization is implementing projects involving the protection of species and habitats, ecotourism and environmental education in Africa, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The organization supports income-generating activities to help local communities not to get involved in poaching or encroaching into wildlife protected areas.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources Prof. Judi Wakhungu who presided over the solemn function  noted that while the nation celebrates strides it has made over the years, “We in the conservation sector take pride in the growth of the national pride, a heritage and a key foundation of the country’s economy through tourism. Indeed, the government recognises the role wildlife-based tourism plays in the economy. “

“For this reason, Kenya’s transformation blue-print, Vision 2030, has identified tourism as one of the six key sectors to deliver the 10% economic growth rate per annum envisaged under the economic pillar. It cannot be gainsaid that tourism is the second largest sector in Kenya’s economy after agriculture and accounts for 21 per cent of total foreign exchange earnings and 12 % of GDP. We are proud of KWS contribution in the embodiment of the people of Kenya development and aspiration” Prof wakhungu said.      

The function was also attended by the Principal Secretary in the State Department for Environment and Natural Resources Dr. Richard Lesiyampe and Board of Trustees Chairman Hon. David Mwiraria as well as representatives of Commanders of Uniformed and Disciplined Forces.

“We commit ourselves to strictly adhere to the letter and spirit of the MOU with regard to administering the Fund,” said Hon. Mwiraria while acknowledging the assistance announced by NABU representative Mr Shroeder who also attended this year’s celebrations.  

The day is also used to celebrate the birthday of Nairobi National Park which was gazetted on the 16th December, 1946.

On December 16, 1946, Nairobi National Park, the first national park to be created in Kenya was gazetted. The KWS Board of Trustees and Management have since 2005 set aside the day to commemorate the birthday of the park and to honour conservation heroes. Since a similar event last year, four new names of rangers killed in the course of active duty have been added to the roll of honour.

Prof. Wakhungu acknowledged growing support for wildlife conservation by Kenya’s development partners. She cited the United Kingdom, French Government through French Development Agency, German government and its agencies, Canadian government through Parks Canada, US and Chinese governments and a host of other local and international partners and the media for their support in conserving the country’s wildlife.

The Cabinet Secretary expressed her optimism that wildlife conservation in Kenya will be augmented once the new Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill, 2013 and the soon to be commissioned forensic and genetics laboratory, underway at KWS headquarters in Nairobi, are fully operationalised.

The heroes’ day function was also attended by the team of KWS climbers who had been commissioned by the President to hoist the national flag on Mt Kenya on the eve of Kenya @50 independence celebrations.

 

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