Speech by KWCA CEO on Commemorating World Ranger Day 2022
Speech by KWCA CEO Mr Dickson Kaelo during the Pre-World Ranger Day Event held on Saturday, July 30th 2022 in Kasigau Wildlife Conservancy in Taita Taveta County.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today during this special day as we celebrate rangers in conservancies, wildlife parks and reserves, including forest reserves, for their work in preserving our nature and bringing down poaching to the lowest levels in the last few decades.
I thank Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association (TTWCA) and Kasigau Wildlife Conservancy for hosting this auspicious event. Special thanks to the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and the Thin Greenline Foundation for dedicating July 31st to honour the work of rangers worldwide.
World Ranger Day is a day to pause, reflect and commit to honouring the work of rangers. Chitwan declaration points to actions for rangers’ employers to celebrate and recognise the vital work of rangers and commitment to supporting their work.
Today’s celebration has two roles, firstly is to remember and stand with the families of over 150 rangers who died in the line of duty over the past year, 75 of whom are from Africa and three from Kenya. Secondly is to celebrate the vital work rangers do and commit to supporting their work.
At the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA), we see the work of rangers as foundational and life-supporting. Without rangers, there cannot be conservancies. Conservancies host 4,200 community rangers nationally, of which 270 are female rangers.
The work of rangers goes beyond surveillance and security; they are the eyes and ears of our communities. They do all the leg work to serve in the interface between people and wildlife; in doing so, they work for long hours in extreme weather and often risk their own lives to discharge their duties. To do this, they demonstrate selfless sacrifice and courage.
World Ranger Day’s theme is diversity, which reminds us to prioritise gender inclusion, representation of different ecosystems and diverse conservation models, cultural differences and our different roles in conservation organisations.
Today’s threats present new challenges to the rangers workforce. The recurrent drought brings about natural resource competition, seasonal fires, and pandemics like COVID 19, among others and makes the ranger’s work difficult; this calls for more concerted efforts to support rangers.
At KWCA, we acknowledge the work of rangers, evidenced by our advocacy efforts to ensure government recognises and appreciates the critical role of conservancy rangers’ in wildlife conservation. In 2020, KWCA advocated for rangers’ support to the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, at the height of the COVID pandemic, where the government paid over 700 million towards conservancy rangers’ salaries through President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Economic Stimulus Programme to caution conservancies from collapsing.
KWCA, in partnership with WWF established the Association of Wildlife Conservancy Rangers in Kenya to enable networking and participation in continental and international ranger forums. Recently, KWCA sponsored 36 delegates to the Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) in Kigali, Rwanda, which included conservancy rangers.
KWCA has further prepared a Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) handbook to guide conservancy rangers and wildlife scouts in their work. The handbook has been revised to include human rights and gender considerations and will be made available soon.
Today is also a day to make new commitments to support rangers; the Chitwan declaration outlines the role of ranger employers to consider the welfare of rangers. These include salaries commensurate to their work, life insurance, life-work balance, adequate rangers for patrol, suitable housing, clean water, and ensuring women feel safe. The declaration further outlines more ranger opportunities be given to women, provide equal pay and facilities based on needs and establish a reward mechanism for rangers performance-based incentives and Improved access to technology.
I, therefore, join you in celebrating all conservancy rangers who have died and those on duty across the country and around the world. You are our conservation heroes.