Rangelands communities partners with Kenya WIldlife Service to protecting Kenya’s wildlife
Two-hundred-forty-three young men and three women from northern Kenya’s predominantly pastoralist communities graduated this year from the Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS) elite Manyani Field Training School. The young men and women completed an intensive curriculum that has equipped them with the skills to play a major role in protecting Kenya’s wildlife.
The training highlights the partnership between the KWS and the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT). Rangers from NRT member conservancies assist the KWS with the immense task of conserving and managing Kenya’s abundant wildlife, 80% of which exists outside of KWS-managed and protected areas. Kenya’s wildlife attracts tourists from all over the world; making the industry the second-highest revenue earner for the country. The northern rangelands encompass one of the major wildlife areas in the country, and NRT's network of community conservancies are essential to ensuring wildlife conservation.
NRT is an umbrella organization that was initiated by USAID through financial support to the LEWA Conservancy to bring together predominantly pastoralist communities, private investors and the Government of Kenya to promote the long-term conservation of wildlife in Kenya’s northern rangelands through 19 community-owned and managed conservancies. NRT’s innovative approach has proven beneficial to Kenya’s economy; it promotes the community management and conservation of the country’s wildlife, while maintaining a healthy rangeland for pastoralists' livestock. USAID has invested more than $3 million in NRT’s cost effective approach to community-led conservation. NRT-supported conservancies cover over 5 million acres of rangeland and represents 100,000 residents in Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit, Baringo/East Pokot, Tana River and Ijara Counties.
One of the functions of a Community Conservancy is to institute security operations to provide stability to wildlife, residents and visitors to the area. Conservancy security teams are hired from the communities in which they serve and are closely linked to KWS and Kenya Police. The training success of NRT Conservancy rangers has reinforced security throughout the northern rangelands and led to sharing of data between NRT and KWS that enables both institutions to deal with poaching, security and human-animal conflicts effectively.
Kenoti Matunge graduated from Manyani this year, and said the training is absolutely vital and necessary for each ranger. Prior to attending the three month training Kenoti did not understand the difference between the work of KWS, Kenya Police and Community Conservancy rangers. Now, not only does Kenoti understand the difference - he is confidently using his skills at the Lekurruki Conservation Trust.
The training of NRT Community Conservancy rangers at the KWS school highlights the importance of these rangers in the effective conservation of the northern rangelands and empowerment of communities to protect the wildlife that is a source of pride and economic development for the Kenyan people.