What you need to know:
- Our Sunday drive into Mpala Research Centre provided us with this opportunity, and we saw zebras, reticulated giraffes, elephants, impala, dik-diks and other wildlife animals within Laikipia County’s conservancies.
- Here, the sound of the king of the jungle roaring is a common indication that one must adhere to the security guidelines so as not to cause wildlife-conflict and other threats facing the world’s biodiversity.
Conservationists say there was a time when humans and wildlife coexisted, living a fulfilled life. Our Sunday drive into Mpala Research Centre provided us with this opportunity, and we saw zebras, reticulated giraffes, elephants, impala, dik-diks and other wildlife animals within Laikipia County’s conservancies.
Here, the sound of the king of the jungle roaring is a common indication that one must adhere to the security guidelines so as not to cause wildlife-conflict and other threats facing the world’s biodiversity. “My job here is to protect visitors from animal attacks, but our main job is to conserve wildlife and protect humans and livestock. I enjoy this job because it allows me to interact with wildlife, which most people are afraid of,” Antony Lokorodi tells Climate Action.
Lokorodi, a sergeant ranger, is one of 67 rangers who provide security to visitors at Mpala Research Centre and its environs. He says he has developed passion for the conservancy’s way of life. He is concerned that without him and many other rangers around the world, there would be a great danger due to a lack of security and little or no knowledge of coexistence among wildlife, livestock and humans, resulting in deaths and injuries.
Rangers are extremely organised in their operations. They have a control operation room, also known as a radio room, where all information from the outside is relayed.
Alice Lima, a ranger, has been working in this room since 2019.
“My job is to receive and deliver reports, and we work both inside and outside the conservancy sites, where we receive reports from fellow rangers. When they have reports of wildlife killed by other wildlife such as lions, they share them with us,” she said.
Lima says he loved the work of police officers and applied for various government jobs but was unsuccessful. But she got successful when she saw an opportunity for ranger recruitment at the Mpala Research Centre.
“I passed the interview, underwent training for six weeks and eventually got confirmed,” says the mother of one. Conservationists describe rangers as the unsung heroes who protect and conserve national parks, game reserves and conservancies.
Their work goes beyond protection and conservation to include data collection, providing visitor services, fire management, education and community support. According to Nelly Palmeris, deputy director and chief operations officer of Mpala Research Centre, nature conservation and wildlife protection require everyone’s participation. As a result, she says the centre has positioned itself as a hub of knowledge, exchange and networking by collaborating with international and local pastoralists on ecology courses, livestock diseases and climate change.
“As much as we do research, we don’t want to feel that we are invading the community. We are ensuring that we keep the communities intact so they don’t at any point feel like they have been exploited,” she says.
The 2013 Wildlife Act recognises conservancies and encourages wildlife. Currently, there are more than 200 conservancies spread across 30 counties. The conservancies have created jobs and act as tourism attractions, thus contributing to the country’s economic development.
“Conservation and conservancies can be ecological support to land and environment and at the same time support the economy of the country, counties and the communities,” says Peter Matunge, CEO of Laikipia Conservancies Association.
While celebrating World Rangers’ Day 2023, the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA) noted that rangers’ relentless dedication has resulted in significant declines in poaching incidents over the last few years, setting an example for other nations to emulate.
With the framework targeting 3 outlines that at least 30 per cent of the planet is effectively conserved and managed by 2030 (’30 by 30’), KWCA says that the target cannot be achieved without an adequately resourced and trained area-based ranger workforce.
“The 30 by 30 target cannot be achieved if we don’t have more rangers who would protect our wildlife and conserve our environment. Therefore, we would need a ranger workforce that is resourced and trained,” says Joyce Mbataru, Communications Manager at KWCA. She says that there is a need for donors, conservationists and conservation stakeholders globally to focus on ensuring that resources are directed towards supporting the capacity of conservancy rangers.
“The rangers should be well equipped and adequately trained to do conservation. Rangers support the implementation of management plans and grazing plans within the conservancies and without them there, poaching will increase and illegal wildlife trade because wildlife will be killed especially the big mammals,” Mbataru said.