By Judith Akolo
The government has initiated a raft of measures at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) that will see the recruitment of National Youth Service trained personnel to boost the number of rangers at the state corporation.
Environment Principal Secretary Dr. Richard Lesiyampe says the move is aimed at revamping the intelligence unit at KWS to help stem the increasing number of poaching incidents that continue to decimate the elephant and rhino population.
“The government intends to restructure and revamp the intelligence unit which plays a critical role in the war against poaching,” said Lesiyampe at a news conference held the KWS Headquarters.
Thursday saw the first action beginning with a purge at the state corporation that saw six officers sent on compulsory leave to pave way for investigations into operations at the state corporation.
They included; Deputy Director Finance and Administration Mr. William Waweru who has been replaced by Mr. Nelson Agina in an acting capacity.
The Deputy Director of Wildlife Conservation Mr. Patrick Omondi was also sent on leave and his place taken by Mr. Robert Njue in an acting capacity. Others are the Deputy Director Security Mr. Julius Kimani was also sent on leave and his place taken by Mr. Robert Muasya in an acting capacity.
Deputy Director Corporate Services Mr. Tom Sipul was replaced by Eng. Benson Wamaya in an acting capacity.
Head of Finance Mr. Wesley Isanda was replaced by Mr. James Sambu in an acting capacity, Acting Head of Supply Chain Management Mr. Christopher Oludhe has also been sent on compulsory leave and his place taken by Mr. Gitonga Runo in an acting capacity.
Rampant poaching and lethargy at the Kenya Wildlife Service that has seen poaching incidents shoot through the roof has forced the government to act.
In the move aimed at preventing further loses of elephants include the merger of the KWS, Kenya Forest Service, the Water Towers Authority and the Nyayo Tea Zones in a move aimed at reducing costs, increasing synergy and directing resources to the core business of KWS.
The government has also set up an inter-ministerial committee with members from the treasury, environment water and natural resources, planning and devolution, interior and national co-ordination and KWS to fast track measures aimed at dealing with challenges at KWS.
Among the measures put in place to address the poaching menace include; the Formation of an anti-poaching committee, Review of the budget and channeling resources to the KWS core business, restructure and revamp the intelligence unit of KWS, increase synergy by working with country governments in addressing poaching, increase mobility of rangers by purchasing 50 new four-wheel drive vehicles, reconstitute the tender committee to fast-track the procurement of critical security equipment, rationalize and harmonize allowances for rangers.
In the meantime, a taskforce on wildlife security set up by Environment Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu and led by former KWS Director Nehemiah Rotich is seeking views from the public and will end its mandate next month.