Conservatories to introduce comprehensive insurance for community rangers – Kenya News Agency

In November 2020, Corporal Joseph Ngeti, one of the most senior community rangers working with Wildlife Works, a community-focused wildlife conservation enterprise in Voi sub-county, was on a routine patrol in the one of the project areas, when it was attacked by a rogue elephant.

Conservation rangers demonstrate how to give first aid to a colleague injured in the line of duty at Kasigau Conservancy in Voi sub-county. Photo by Wagema Mwangi

He died instantly. Less than a month later, on the 8e In December, Ms. Jessica Njeri, a ranger with the same company, also reportedly succumbed to injuries she sustained after an enraged elephant attacked them while they were in a patrol vehicle.

The two deaths are among three in Kenya and 75 in Africa, for rangers who have lost their lives in the context of wildlife and biodiversity protection between 2020 to date.

The deaths underscore the serious risks that community rangers operating on reserves and ranches face daily as they work to protect wildlife outside national parks.

Mr Eric Sagwe, head of security at Wildlife Works, said the death of the two rangers two years ago has robbed the conservation community of dedicated eco-warriors.

He added that community rangers are often exposed to multiple threats when working to protect wildlife from multiple threats emanating from poaching, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Noting that conservation work for rangers is subject to risk, Sagwe revealed that community rangers have undergone intensive training in first aid and other lifesaving techniques to limit loss of life from excessive bleeding and other serious injuries on the pitch.

“We have invested heavily in training rangers in emergency first aid techniques which they will use in the event of an incident before help arrives. This is an essential part of the skills needed to promote conservation and keep rangers safe,” he said.

Meanwhile, as part of securing the well-being and lives of rangers in the field, plans are underway to roll out comprehensive insurance coverage for thousands of community rangers on reserves across Kenya.

The move would elevate their roles and include them in the list of beneficiaries to receive compensation due in the event of injury or death.

Dickson Kaelo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA), says that with the help of the International Rangers Federation, rangers will be fully insured against the daily risks they face during their work.

The CEO was speaking at Kasigau Ranch in Voi sub-county this weekend during the Rangers Day celebration.

He added that such incentives would boost ranger morale and help conservation efforts across the country, noting that ranger families would also be supported.

“The insurance scheme will ensure that community rangers who are exposed to multiple risks on a daily basis in the course of their work and are adequately covered. Likewise, the scheme involves compensating them or their families in the event of incidents requiring such intervention,” Kaelo said.

Another plan is to launch the Rangers Cooperative Savings and Loan Society (sacco) to bring together all rangers working on conservancies and ranches across the country. This will foster the culture of saving and investing in the conservation sector.

There are 4,201 community rangers working in 160 reserves in Kenya. Of the total, there are 207 female rangers. While acknowledging efforts to include more female scouts in conservation, Mr Kaelo said conservatories were actively working on gender mainstreaming to boost female scouts in conservation.

However, one of the greatest challenges facing conservation efforts is the threat of climate change. Factors such as prolonged drought, forest fires and increased human wildlife in regions adjacent to protected areas increasingly require urgent intervention.

This has resulted in the death of livestock and wildlife, with data from the Department of Wildlife indicating that around 78 elephants have died in the Tsavo ecosystem due to climate change challenges between 2020 and 2021.

Mr Kaelo said conservatories are adopting the concept of carbon credits to diversify sources of income for improved conservation activities.

In the Tsavo Landscape, 14 conservancies out of the 33 members of the Taita-Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association (TTWCA) are under the carbon credit scheme. The others are in the process of joining this program.

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Country Manager, Ms. Nancy Githaiga, said creating synergies through rewarding partnerships is the future of conservation in Kenya.

Noting that community rangers were key to improving biodiversity outside protected areas, she said there was a need to equip and build the capacity of rangers as part of the process to prepare them to deal with threats from wildlife.

During the event, AWF donated a Land Cruiser that will be used by the On-Reserve Rapid Response Unit to respond to emergencies across the Tsavo Landscape.

“The vehicle should help promote conservation activities, especially during emergency response. This is how the partnership should work,” she said.

Conservation partners in attendance praised community rangers across the country for their dedication to the job. They pledged to work closely together to champion the conservation agenda in the region.

Ms Beatrace Ndisha, project assistant in Tsavo with WWF Kenya, said the collaboration was key to promoting the conservation agenda. As a partner, WWF-Kenya paid the salaries of rangers in the Wushumbu and Mgeno reserves in addition to providing essential equipment like firefighting equipment and graders to fight fires.

By Wagema Mwangi

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