WORLD RANGER DAY

Kenya joins the world in honouring gallant rangers

Kenya Forest Service rangers are responsible for protecting 2.59 million hectares of forestland.

In Summary

• Commemorated on July 31, the day is celebrated worldwide to honour rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and acknowledge their work.

•Rangers from Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service have been celebrated. 

Rangers at the City Park in Nairobi Image: COURTESY
Rangers at the City Park in Nairobi Image: COURTESY

From sun rise to sunset, rain or shine, Kenyan rangers have seen it all as they jealously guard county's heritage with a zeal.

Some have lost their lives by coming into contact with dangerous wildlife or armed loggers and poachers.

Their sacrifices have not been in vain, authorities said on Friday, as Kenya joined the rest the world in honouring and celebrating these brave and gallant rangers during World Ranger Day.

Commemorated on July 31, the day is celebrated worldwide to honour rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and acknowledge their work.

Rangers from the Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service were celebrated. 

KFS chief conservator Julius Kamau said in a statement that his rangers serve diligently to safeguard Kenya’s forest resources.

The rangers are responsible for protecting 2.59 million hectares of forestland.

Kamau said the day is an important platform to highlight their achievements and challenges.

“More often than not, forest rangers face life-threatening situations in their line of duty, sometimes being attacked by wild animals or assaulted, if not killed by illegal loggers or poachers and other criminal elements,” Kamau said.

KWS rangers at the Malindi Marine National Park
KWS rangers at the Malindi Marine National Park
Image: FILE

In addition, he said, the officers brave the extreme terrain and harsh weather conditions in the wild which sometimes leave them with lifelong health complications and sometimes end up dying.

Kamau said between 2015-20, five forest rangers were killed in the line of duty, while 106 sustained injuries from attack by illegal loggers and poachers.

He further informed that the law enforcement officers account for more than half the total KFS human capital.

“These gallant men and women are our nation’s forest protection heroes and heroines. Forest rangers are at the front line in the protection of our God-given natural resources, heritage, and splendor-the forests and allied resources therein,” Kamau said.

He added, “Every day and moment, they strive to ensure the forests and allied resources are safe guarded and protected for the benefit of the present and future generations.”

The CCF said the World Ranger Day presents an opportunity to acknowledge their hard work and remember those who are injured or die in the line of duty.

He said they protect the newly gazetted forest areas, support in the protection of the community forests and in some instances private forests and critical installations and equipment of the Service.

They also participate in the national security functions and multi-agency operations such as the one going on in Boni Forest, Mau Forest, Mt Elgon and Samburu Forests.

Kamau said the Service has embarked on an ambitious agenda to train and equip each and every forest ranger, provide adequate and ideal housing, uniform, risk allowance, medical cover and career progression among others.

This, he said, is meant to improve their welfare and working environment.

For instance, in the 2019-20 financial year, about 98 ranger houses were refurbished and in the current period, the service intends to refurbish 80 more  units.

Tourism CS Najib Balala said rangers who protect iconic wildlife species at KWS are also celebrated.

“We are proud of them and I like the commitment they have given not only not only to the animals but to the country and the world,” Balala said.

The CS, who joined a patrol team of the KWS patrol and surveillance, said he experienced first-hand what the rangers go through on a daily basis to secure rhinos.

“It is not easy but I want to say thank you for doing great job,” Balala said.