Honoring fallen forest heroes: Joseph Ngeti and Jessica Njeri

In 2020, Wildlife Works lost two of our most devoted rangers after they were each fatally attacked by an elephant in separate incidents. To honor their memory, we take a look at the story of their lives. 

Joseph Ngeti was a husband, father of three, and one of the longest serving rangers who had worked with Wildlife Works for 15 years. “When we talk about one of the most accomplished rangers in the task force, we are talking about Joseph Ngeti.” says Eric Sagwe, the Head of Security who worked closely with Joseph. “We are also talking about a good, gentle, soft-spoken guy, and a role model to the rangers who took his work seriously.” he adds.

Joseph, a former ranger at the Kenya Wildlife Service, joined Wildlife Works in 2005 as a security guard until he was promoted to be a ranger in 2008. It was not long afterwards that he was assigned to be one of the data clerks, which involved data collection and processing within the ranger bases.  

Joseph’s hard work as a ranger did not go unnoticed and, in 2017, he was appointed to be one of the ranger instructors at Wildlife Works. He completed a ranger life saver course thanks to training from Ranger Campus Foundation, and he used his position and expertise to introduce fellow rangers to training such as parades, drills, bleeding control, and arrest and search. 

Mr. Eric Sagwe later promoted him to be a Corporal, a position with a large responsibility, which put him in charge of one of the ranger camps within the project area. Until his passing, Joseph was the head of his ranger team, where he was in charge of ranger welfare, communication, as well as airing his team’s grievances to the Head of Security using the appropriate chain of command. 

Joseph’s life was cut short when he was tragically killed by an elephant on 7th November 2020 while conducting a routine ranger patrol in one of our project areas. 

An exemplary female ranger

“Jessica was extremely hard working, respectable, fearless, and a no-nonsense lady,” says Eric Sagwe. 

Jessica Njeri joined Wildlife Works in 2017 after emerging as one of the best shortlisted candidates in the physical exercise and interview category. “She was the first lady to be selected from that squad because her performance during the interview selection process was excellent,” recalls Eric. 

After successful completion of her preliminary training, Jessica joined her new squad where she would later be chosen as the class leader. “This was thanks to her exemplary character and she served well up to the time when she graduated from the training school in 2017,” recalls Eric.

Despite her being new in her team, Jessica demonstrated her ability to learn on the job and take on new responsibilities. She was put forward by one of the team leaders to be a data clerk at the beginning of 2019, a position she held until her passing. As part of her work, Jessica and her colleagues also received training to work with Cluey, a digital data collection app that helps to track wild spaces using wildlife intelligence platforms. At the end of the month, they would compile all their findings and send them to the monitoring team in the biodiversity department.

The late Jessica Njeri. Photo taken by Filip C. Agoo

In her own words, Jessica stressed the importance of collaborating with the community when protecting wildlife. “It is important to engage local communities because they can be a good source of information when it comes to reporting poachers and illegal loggers,” she said.

Jessica exceeded everyone’s expectations and the ranger management planned to promote her to be one of the team leaders. Her tragic death on 8th December 2020 robbed the conservation community of a dedicated ranger, daughter, and sister. 

We will continue to honor these selfless individuals and other rangers across the globe who have lost their lives protecting what they treasured most. Once again, Wildlife Works sends our heartfelt condolences to the grieving families and is also offering financial and moral support to them as they rebuild their lives after this huge loss.

For anyone wishing to donate to their families, they can do so through the following means:

• M-Pesa Paybill number- 516600

• Account Number- 0320046394001

• You can also donate through the Elephant Protection Trust website link here https://www.elephantprotectiontrust.org/donate (please send us a confirmation to contactus@wildlifeworks.com)

All donations will go to the families in full.

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