Safety of wildlife paramount in the midst of the pandemic

More than 50 community wildlife rangers from Kenya and Tanzania deployed in a joint border patrol this week in response to a potential risk of poaching.

Funded by the European Union through the International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw), rangers simultaneously monitored the wildlife-rich landscapes along their respective borderlines, while staying within their international boundaries.

Originally planned as a cross-border operation the patrol was carried out by 30 Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers (OCWR) from Amboseli, Kenya and 20 community wildlife rangers from Enduimet Wildlife Management Area (EWMA) Tanzania. Government agencies Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) from Kenya, Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) and Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) from Tanzania were at hand to supervise the exercise. All rangers kept to their side of the border to avoid possible contamination with the virus.

The patrol sought to ensure the safety of wildlife at risk of being poached due to the lack of visitors and hospitality staff in the area due to the global pandemic, which has impacted the local economy and incomes.

The community wildlife rangers enhance wildlife security in community lands, where wildlife spend most of their time, in addition to that offered by government-funded rangers from Kenya Wildlife Service, Tanzania National Parks Authority and Tanzania Wildlife Authority.

“The Amboseli-Kilimanjaro landscape is a critical wildlife habitat that straddles the Kenya – Tanzania border. Patrols of this nature are essential to keep wildlife safe as they enhance collaboration amongst community and state agencies through information gathering and sharing, Cross border landscapes are particularly difficult to preserve as would be poachers take advantage of the fact that they cannot be pursued across the common border after committing their acts. “Synchronized patrols such as this one ensure that this not the case,“ stated James Isiche, IFAW Regional Director for East Africa. “I commend all the rangers that were involved in the operations. The role and presence of the community wildlife rangers particularly during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic when operations have been hampered by lack of tourism revenue to sustain them, is of paramount importance as they continue to protect wildlife from potential poaching for bush-meat and other wildlife products,” he added.

Collaboration amongst wildlife security agencies in the management and protection of wildlife has seen the area remain a safe haven for wildlife with only one elephant poached in the Amboseli ecosystem in 2018. Zero in 2019 and none so far this year.

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