Date Published:

Wednesday, August 2, 2023 - 16:30

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) joined the world on the 31st of July, 2023, to commemorate World Rangers Day, a day that honors those courageous women and men who dedicate their lives to preserving the rich biodiversity of Kenya's wildlife heritage, at the KWS Clubhouse in Nairobi National Park (NNP).

The 2023 World Ranger Day theme is ‘30 by 30,’ based on the 2022 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), where a Global Biodiversity Framework was agreed upon by world leaders and decision-makers. Target 3 outlined a requirement that at least 30 per cent of the planet is effectively conserved and managed by 2030 (‘30 by 30’). This target cannot be achieved without adequately resourced and trained area-based workforce.

To salute the unwavering efforts of the Service’s conservation warriors, KWS and her stakeholders, led by the acting Deputy Director, Parks and Reserves Mr.  Samuel Tokore took part in a tree planting session in line with His Excellency President William Ruto's 15 billion tree-planting initiative aimed at protecting future generations from climate crisis.

Distinguished by their courage in the line of duty, Mr. Adan Kala (SAD), acknowledged the rangers for their dedication and tireless work in harsh environments to enforce anti-poaching measures, engage with local communities, and monitor wildlife to ensure the preservation of Kenya's fragile ecosystem.

Mr. Kala stated that protecting wildlife and their habitat is not an easy task. He highlighted the dangers faced by rangers in the line of duty, which include poaching, illegal wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflict among others, which pose formidable challenges to conservation efforts, but rangers still do their jobs diligently regardless.

Often referred to as ‘frontline soldiers of conservation,’ they put their lives on the line to safeguard wildlife and their habitats that make Kenya a global treasure as echoed by Senior Assistant Director (NNP), Mr. Muraya Githinji in his opening remarks.

During this momentous celebration, Mr. John Lope (Nairobi National Park), Mr. Teddy Brown (Ngong Station), Sergeant Mercy Muthiani (Machakos Unit), Mr. Festus Maina (band), Rita Omuse (Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park) and Mr. Mukui Ng’ang’a (Amboseli National Park) gave the stakeholders present a glimpse into their experiences on the frontline of nature preservation. These brave warriors relished the beauty of their work and recounted the wrenching moments and battles they face every day. They risk their lives to protect endangered species from ruthless poachers.

Understanding the significance of engaging communities in their conservation efforts, they narrated how difficult it has become to bridge the gap between conservation and livelihood, especially in the case of human-wildlife conflict and they urged KWS management to support them with the necessary resources and training to enable them to perform diligently.

While celebrating the achievements of the rangers and their unwavering commitment to conservation, the honorary wardens led by Mr. Ahmed donated 20 pairs of binoculars and torches which would aid in securing and monitoring the wildlife. In their efforts to preserve Kenya's wildlife heritage, Ms. Annabelle (The Luigi Footprints Foundation) recognized the crucial roles rangers play to ensure conservationists' work is a success.

To reaffirm their belief that their efforts are valued and recognized, KWS senior management: Mary Kirabui (Deputy Director, Community and Education), Elema Saru (Deputy Director and Head of Investigations), George Osuri (Ag. Director, Wildlife Protection Division). Gladys Moraa (Machakos station) and Paul Wambi (Senior Warden Amboseli National Park) expressed their gratitude and commended the rangers who they said stood as guardians of our natural treasures.

During the meeting, Mr. Tokore commended the rangers for their work as he pondered over the lives of rangers both within KWS and outside other conservation organizations, given the challenges facing wildlife conservation today. Reflecting on their courage and sacrifice made by the rangers, he honored the fallen rangers and saluted the standing who courageously undertake the ending responsibility of wildlife protection at the frontline.

Speaking to the stakeholders present, Mr. Tokore stated that if you want a person who understands the nitty- gritty of how to protect biodiversity - hire a ranger. For they understand that it is a calling that can end in injury or loss of life. In acknowledging their unparalleled work, he stated that rangers are the literal bullet- proof vests for our wildlife, as their diverse roles enable us to write the next chapters in the conservation story by ensuring that poachers do not get access to endangered wildlife. 

In conclusion, he committed to equip and to support the rangers to the best of their abilities, to ensure that their story continues, well after they are gone.