By Jane Okoth
On a daily basis, Wildlife Works rangers go out on patrols to survey the area for anything suspicious such as snares, poachers and charcoal burners. The teams also collect data for the biodiversity monitoring team on any wildlife sightings. This kind of dedication is what it has taken to keep the 500,000 acres of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project protected. Despite these efforts, the rangers have to live with the fact they might come face to face with armed poachers, an inevitable threat that stresses the need for a well-trained team.
In January 2018, Wildlife Works rangers with the support of Ranger Campus Foundation and Kenya Wildlife Service conducted refresher training sessions at 6.0, one of our ranger camps located in a remote area of Rukinga. This training ensured that the men and women in uniform had the necessary skills and training to do their job safely and successfully. At 5 am in the camp, the 16-ranger team and their instructors started the day with a morning jog. “By 7 am we reported to the camp for a vigorous marching drill so as to keep our skills honed,” said Ruth Katunge, a female ranger.
What followed was a series of different subjects throughout the day. This included, for example, basic Human Resource policies where rangers were taught the importance of following the right procedures at work. These policies helped to ensure compliance with employment legislation and informed the rangers of their responsibilities and Wildlife Works’ expectations.
As part of the refresher training, Moses Lorewa, Head of Data Collection, introduced the rangers to a section on data collection. This was an important topic that provided insights on the use of GPS, data sheets, and GPS cameras as well as rangers’ role with regards to data. “The rangers were taught how to use the equipment and collect relevant data according to procedure. Such information is in turn used to support law enforcement and prosecution cases and also enhance security in our project areas,” he said.
Through demonstrations, the rangers were taught other subjects such as first aid and bleeding control. Rangers more than ever required this kind of training as they constantly dealt with hostile situations. During the training, they acquired skills such as resuscitation, taking care of an injured ranger and how to protect themselves from further injury while in hostile situations. Other important subjects include law enforcement, drills, and dealing with low threat incidents.
Wildlife Works rangers do more than just protect wildlife, as they also work within their own communities when protecting wildlife and the environment. Laurian Lenjo, Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Manager, introduced a topic on REDD+ awareness and community engagement. This subject is a discussion where rangers are reminded of the need to work with the community, the history of Wildlife Works’ REDD+ project and how conservation benefits communities.
After a strenuous one-month of training, the rangers held a colorful passing out parade ceremony to officially mark the end of the program. During the ceremony, they proudly demonstrated the skills they have acquired. Wildlife Works Management, Ranger Campus Foundation, and Kenya Wildlife Service representatives attended the occasion. In the recent passing out parade ceremony, Wildlife Works’ Director of Operations Jamie Hendriksen congratulated the rangers for their exemplary performance during the training. He also congratulated the Chief of Security, Eric Sagwe, team leaders and all instructors for ensuring an effective training environment.
Such refresher training is crucial as it keeps the rangers safe in their line of duty thus ensuring the safety of wildlife. The training is scheduled to finish by the end of July 2018. At Wildlife Works, we hope this training will help to improve their abilities as rangers in the area of conservation by reinforcing and improving their skills. Congratulations Wildlife Works rangers!