By Kibiwott Koross
The planned recruitment of 1,000 game rangers to beef up the war against poaching hangs in the balance amid reports of a funding gap. The Kenya Wildlife Service ( KWS), which has been hit by an upsurge in poaching mainly targeting elephants for their ivory, was to recruit 500 rangers in July and another 500 next year. This is still on course according to KWS Director William Kiprono and Judi Wakhungu, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment Water and Natural Resources.
However, a well-placed government source privy to recent communications between the ministry and KWS said the plan had been shelved owing to a shortage of funds, placing in further jeopardy the fight against armed poachers who have killed 45 rhinos and 183 elephants since the beginning of the year.
A recent census by KWS reported a steady rise in elephant numbers in Amboseli ecosystem despite high cases of poaching reported in the area. Currently, there are 2,800 rangers distributed to over 58 National Parks and Reserves nationwide that, according to KWS, are not enough.
Nearly half of them perform office duties bringing the number to those carrying out patrols and security surveillance to less than 2,000 at any particular time with some being off duty or on leave.
Speaking to The Standard On Saturday on phone, Ms Wakhungu agreed there had been a delay in release of funds for the exercise, but insisted it would be rolled out soon.
She said: “Yes there was a hitch but it is being sorted now. As we speak, we are going to advertise soon. As we speak, I am waiting a communication from the director’s office on the same.”
She said the exercise will be carried out on due course. “We are starting with the NYS and later we will roll a national exercise,” she said.
The KWS director also expressed optimism in a telephone interview with The Standard On Saturday: “We had planned to recruit 500 rangers in July this year while the rest next year and this has not changed. More....