Economy

Kenyans to pay Sh1bn for private wildlife rangers

balala

Tourism and Wildlife secretary Najib Balala. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Taxpayers will fork out Sh1 billion to pay salaries of 3,500 wildlife rangers in private and community conservancies as the State steps in to mitigate effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tourism and Wildlife secretary Najib Balala said the government had allocated the funds to support the rangers who work outside the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) parks.

“The money will go towards paying salaries for rangers in 160 conservancies that is outside KWS managed parks and game reserves. We are targeting 3,500 rangers whose salaries will be paid for one year,” he said while receiving a report of the Task Force on the Human Wildlife Compensation schemes.

“The rangers will be supported in terms of salaries for the next one year because the Covid-19 pandemic has depleted private conservancies’ revenues due to a lack of tourism.”

The tourist destinations have been empty of tourists, guides, hotel and lodges workers following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Mr Balala appealed to donors to support private and community conservancies to stay afloat until after the pandemic.

There have been fears that Kenya’s valuable wildlife are under threat from poachers due to the downsizing of ranger posts in the parks since the outbreak of coronavirus in March.

The cash-strapped KWS, which employs 6,000 personnel, has been forced to downsize its staff in the wake of the pandemic, opening a window for poachers.