Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has recruited 566 additional rangers to effectively boost wildlife management and fight poaching which is rampant in the east African nation.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources Judi Wakhungu said the recruitment of the rangers was prompted by the escalated poaching experienced earlier this year.
Wakhungu said the rangers had initially undergone a basic paramilitary training at the National Youth Service Training College and found it necessary to shorten their training period to address the critical skill areas required for effective execution of duties in the parks.
"The 566 rangers will join the other wildlife protection staff in the country whose number stands at 2800," she said in a statement released on Saturday after the pass-out parade.
Wakhungu said the pass-out parade is a major boost to KWS as it tries to curb cases of rhino and elephant poaching that have been happening in various parks in the country.
Conservationists warn that unless the demand is extinguished, poachers will wipe out Africa's elephants. "Like humans, elephant families that have lost their leaders will struggle, and without the wisdom and experience of their elders, many will perish in times of hardship".
Conservationists say rising demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia has caused a poaching crisis in recent years, with over 1,000 rhinos having been killed in Africa in the last 18 months.
Wakhungu also announced the government will undertake a national wildlife census that will cost about 2.25 million U.S. dollars in December.
The East African nation has the fourth largest elephant population in the world but poaching, environmental pressures and human activities have threatened the survival of this mammal.
The KWS has also adopted a multifaceted approach to eliminate the poaching vice, adding that the organization has actively engaged communities living next to wildlife sanctuaries, through conservation education on the negative impacts of poaching.