Specialist rangers trained, deployed to protect endangered species in Mara

A day with the Maasai Mara manes and big cats. Photo | Pool

Efforts to protect endangered wildlife species in conservancies around the world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve have been boosted after the United Nations trained and deployed 40 elite community rangers.

The rangers, trained at the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute in Manyani, will protect the endangered black rhino, pangolins and others. They will also help to minimise the human-wildlife conflict in the conservancies.

Speaking in the Orpua conservancies, Friends of Conservation CEO Stephen Kisotu said 20 rangers had been deployed in protected parts of the Maasai Mara and 20 others in community conservancies.

"These officers are specially trained in the protection of rhinos and pangolins and to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts involving elephants and other predators and the community," said Mr Kisotu.

He said over 400 community rangers had been trained in the last two years.

Apart from protecting wildlife, he said, the rangers will also deal with poachers of endangered tree species such as red cedar and sandalwood in the Mara ecosystem.

Some of the rangers who recently graduated from KWS schools exuded confidence that they were ready to protect flora and fauna in the Mara ecosystem and educate the community on the value of wildlife.

Mr Francis Geso and Ms Mary Kipees, who were deployed to the Orpua community wildlife conservancies, were upbeat about starting their duties.
"We were trained for three months in Manyani. It was tough but worth the time. We learned a lot about plants and wildlife. We will now embark on our duties confidently," said Mr Geso.

He cited challenges such as poaching and human-wildlife conflicts as part of their immediate areas of action.

Involving women in conservation also takes centre stage, Ms Kipees said.

"For many years, Maasai women have been barred by cultural norms from venturing into wildlife protection but lately they have fully embraced it," she said.