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KWS team pays courtesy call on German NGO in Berlin
Date Published: 18 Mar, 2014
The Berlin-based conservation NGO, which started a fund for dependents of Kenyan rangers who die in the course of active duty, was recently updated on the progress of disbursing the first tranche of the money.
Kenya Wildlife Service team led by the acting Director General Mr William Kiprono paid a courtesy on Mr. Thomas Tennhardt, NABU Vice President and Head of International Development for NABU International Naturschutzstiftung (NABU International Foundation for Nature). He was accompanied by Ms Annika Natus, the NABU Officer for International Press and Public Relations.
NABU affirmed its commitment to continue supporting the project and was in process of sourcing for more funds to help the initiative. They expressed appreciation for the great work KWS does in wildlife protection and a leading agency in wildlife management in Africa.
Mr Kiprono was accompanied by the acting Deputy Director Strategy and Change, Mr Edwin Wanyonyi and Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Paul Udoto.
The KWS team was in Germany as part of the Kenyan delegation at the just-ended one-week International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin.
The following day, Mr Tom Kirschey, an officer for the International Climate Conservation and Biodiversity, took the KWS team to a tour of a nature biosphere reserve in the State of Brandenburg. The KWS team was able to meet the rangers who protect the reserve and shared their management practices.
NABU officials warned of an increase in poaching in with poachers said to be killing around 100 elephants a day in Africa. There were still some 1.2 million elephants living on the continent in the 1970s; today there are fewer than 444,000. Last year alone, more than 45 tons of ivory were confiscated worldwide.
The majority of the poached ivory ends up in China, where it is turned into amulets and statues. “The smugglers are not only impoverishing rural inhabitants trying to make a living; these are unscrupulous profiteers who are often involved in drug smuggling and terrorism,” said Mr Tennhardt.
“More and more game wardens are losing their lives or sustaining serious injuries in the fight against the ivory mafia. The poachers are normally equipped with semi- or fully automatic firearms.”
According to the International Ranger Foundation, more than 85 game wardens were murdered in the line of duty in 2013 and around half of these cases were in Africa. Kenya has lost 61 rangers on record on the conservation heroes’ monument at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters in Nairobi. Last year alone, four rangers were killed in the line of duty.
When a ranger loses their life or is injured while working to protect the environment or a species, their relatives do not just lose a beloved person, but normally the family’s main breadwinner too.
NABU International – Foundation for Nature has therefore launched the Ranger Fund. Using the money from this fund, rangers can be given support with carrying out their dangerous job – for example through improved training and equipment. NABU International also uses the Ranger Fund to give financial assistance to the families of injured or deceased game wardens in Ethiopia. Since the beginning of this year, this assistance to families has been extended to Kenya, where the state-run organisation Kenya Wildlife Service uses the donations to ensure that the children of murdered rangers can attend primary, secondary school or university. The KWS team and NABU also held a public discussion at the ITB pavilion to the media and general public on the emerging issues on conservation in Kenya and the work that NABU does in conservation. In his presentation Mr. Kiprono noted the various conservation challenges in Kenya, which include climate change and poaching. While responding to a question from the public, Mr. Kiprono invited more Germans to visit Kenya and enjoy the wildlife and safari experience and by extension support conservation.