“When I see a rhino, I see human life”

 

Rianto Lokoran is a National Police reservist (NPR) and ranger at Borana Conservancy in Laikipia County. Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) had the privilege of interviewing him at the local primary school in his home town of Ethi. Rianto has been a ranger at the conservancy for the last 9 years. He has moved up the ranks and now has a supervisory role as head NPR. He is part of the anti-poaching unit; the armed unit that protects rhinos on Borana and is in charge of deployment of rangers into the field each day. 95% of the employees at Borana conservancy are from the local communities surrounding the conservancy. For Rianto, he not only supports his family but also supports the community. We caught up with him to find out just what makes being a ranger so special.

Why did you decide to become a ranger?
“My passion for wildlife. I grew up herding cattle in Ngare Ndare forest. It was my time in the forest where I learned and fell in love with all the plants and wildlife. To be a good ranger, you must have and show a true passion for wildlife. I have that passion. I also want to protect wildlife for current and future generations and the only way I know how to do this is by being a ranger.”

What is the recruitment process and how do you recommend others to become a ranger?

“Borana conservancy will put out an advertisement for rangers from the local community. It is up to your community’s council of elders to select 2 individuals from each community. These individuals are interviewed and selected based on their answers and the following characteristics: hardworking, trustworthy, come from the local communities and passion and love of wildlife. A higher education and computer skills are a plus, but not mandatory. I recommend others to work hard for such a career.”

What is the most challenging task as a ranger?

“When you have intel (intelligence) on poaching and know that there is a possible attack on Borana, but you don’t know where they will attack or who they are. There have been issues where poachers may even threaten you personally or threaten your family. This is exceptionally challenging.”

What is most rewarding about being a ranger?

“When people, especially the community, recognises your hard work and effort. When I bring home 10kg of flour, I have to share it with my bigger family, the community. I can’t save all that flour for my own family. My family taught me the importance of sharing with everyone around you. I, through my job, not only support my family of 5, but my neighbours and my community.”

What is your opinion on rhinos and rhino conservation?

“When I see a rhino, I see human life. For me, the existence of rhinos allows me to put something on the table for my family. These rhinos employ me. Because of these rhinos, I have a job, and because of that job, I am able to purchase the basic needs for my family and community. Also, I care about these animals. They are iconic species and I can see them surviving for future generations because of conservation work.

 

What else would like the community to know about you or your job?

“I am part of the community. Even if I am a ranger/NPR, don’t take me as a different person. I am still part of all of you.”

Some more personal facts about Rianto
Favourite animal: Lion
Favourite food: Ugali and meat
Hobbies: tending to his cows, sheep, donkeys, goats and farm. Spending time with his family.
Family: Married with three daughters, aged 11, 6 and 8 months.

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