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State to train and arm rangers in conservancies

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By JAMES KARIUKI

Posted  Sunday, April 27  2014 at  19:22

In Summary

  • Northern Rangelands Trust-Kenya (NRT-Kenya), a wildlife conservation lobby, said the conservancies had already employed rangers trained by the government and provided them with firearms in the anti-poaching war.

The fight against poaching in northern Kenya has received a major boost after the government mooted fresh plans to train and arm rangers in 27 community-run wildlife conservancies.

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The Northern Rangelands Trust-Kenya (NRT-Kenya), a wildlife conservation lobby, said the conservancies had already employed rangers trained by the government and provided them with firearms in the anti-poaching war.

NRT-Kenya spokeswoman Elodie Sampere, in a statement, said the fund was working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS) in seeking a lasting solution to the proliferation of illegal firearms blamed for multiple deaths, cattle thefts and rising incidents of poaching.

They welcomed a Sh5.6 million KWS donation as well as the ongoing training that has seen conservancy rangers equipped with modern skills in gathering and sharing intelligence, monitoring wildlife, managing combat situations and bushcraft.

The rangers received boots, jerseys, camel bags and other fieldwork kit from KWS while NRT-Kenya topped it with a donation of uniforms worth Sh6.8 million.

“Conservancy managers have reported that trained rangers are more confident, better equipped to deal with all manner of situations, and above all, successful in reducing poaching and violent incidents,” sais Ms Sampere.

According the rangers Kenya Police Reserve (KPR) status has helped conservancies provide them with government weapons. NRT said peace building was its main focal point, with rangers playing a big role in ensuring unity among various communities.

“Tribal allegiances are strong and it is a condition that every conservancy ranger team represents all ethnicities within that conservancy, which has proven to be one of their strongest weapons for both gathering intelligence and raising awareness on conservation in their respective communities,” said Ms Sampere.

Rangers protect wildlife, gather vital information on wildlife populations, movements and health using Wildlife-CoMMs, a simple system that allows data from the field to be easily gathered, recorded and accumulated across all member conservancies.

There are 16 ethnic communities across the 27 NRT community conservancies — Bajun, Boni, Borana, Gabbra, Giriama, Maasai, Njemps, Ntorobo, Orma, Pokomo, Pokot, Rendille, Samburu, Somali, Swahili and Turkana.

Most conservancies are home to two or more of these communities, and many have a history of inter-tribal conflict.