Firing KWS scouts ‘hurt conservation’

Group says the scouts played a major role and deserve to be reinstated

In Summary

• The scouts say their work made a great impact as the number of tourists went up

• However, they have now been rendered jobless and their families are suffering

A KWS officer explains to a member of PWAM about a porcupine fish that was found dead at the shores of the Indian ocean in Malindi
A KWS officer explains to a member of PWAM about a porcupine fish that was found dead at the shores of the Indian ocean in Malindi

The government has been urged to reinstate 36 KWS community scouts to keep serving the community and help in conserving the environment.

The Progress Welfare Association of Malindi said the scouts helped conserve turtles at the Malindi marine park for the last two years and kept the park clean.

Turtle hatching increased due to their vigilance and support in ensuring that turtle eggs were safe, and more than 3,000 hatchlings were released back into the ocean, they said.

PWAM chairperson Kate Mwikali hailed them as needed partners. She was speaking in Malindi during a monthly clean-up organised by PWAM aimed at making Malindi green and blue.

Mwikali said they have worked closely with the scouts and done a commendable job, adding that their absence is a great loss to the community.

“When you pass here (at the beach), it is now clean. This is the group (scouts), together with KWS, who used to pass by here daily, vigilant, enforcing the rights of animals, such as turtles,” she said.

"Despite the fact that they were sacked, they are here with us, cleaning the beach."

She appealed to the government to reinstate them because they are part of the work of mitigating climate change, adding that they were critical in enforcing the rights of animals.

The scouts appealed to President William Ruto to reinstate them as they have now become jobless and their families depend on them for survival.

Anthony Kithi, the head of scouts at Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve, said they were a team of 36 community scouts who were mandated to clean the beach from Coco Beach to Leopard Point.

“We have done so many things for the last two years since we started working for KWS,” he said.

"We were cleaning the beaches and safeguarding protected areas. We were also helping in conserving the endangered turtles, who are victims of plastic pollution."

Normally, he said, they ensure all plastic waste dumped on the beach is collected, which has made the number of turtles rise during their time.

Kithi said they used to safeguard turtle nests, translocate the eggs, and worked with other organisations, led by PWAM, to take part in the monthly clean-ups.

“The news that our job had come to an end caught us off-guard. We never expected that it will just come to an end this way. However, we are still volunteering and we urge the President to reinstate us,” he said.

So far, he said, they left five turtle nests at the Malindi marine park.

Amani Mwagandi, one of the community scouts, said the termination of their work was a big blow to their lives as families depended on them.

“We are facing many challenges now because, like me, the salary I got from the job was helping me educate my brothers. Now schools are open, they are at home. Getting food at home is also difficult because my parents depended on me,” he said.

Nelly Mkongo, another community scout, thanked the KWS for employing them for two years as the job had really helped them in their lives.

“Our work has enabled the number of tourists to rise. They really appreciated our work and asked us to continue the work, so we appeal to the government to reinstate us. We need help from the President of Kenya,” she said.

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