Over the past 10 years, the US and Kenyan Governments have entered into various partnerships in support of wildlife conservation. The U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and USAID are taking action to enhance wildlife management and the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes. In this effort, USAID Kenya partnered with the DOI’s International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) on a five-year project that uses DOI’s expertise in law enforcement, investigation, and prosecution to create a strong network of regional actors to combat wildlife trafficking throughout East Africa.
Last year, the Laikipia Wildlife Forum received a grant as a result of the partnership between USAID Kenya and the US Department of Interior (DOI). Support was received to “Enhance Security in Laikipia’s Rhino Sanctuaries”. The grant focuses on: a) Capacity building b) Anti poaching efforts c) Deterrence to Wildlife Trafficking for three conservancies in Laikipia: Ol Pejeta (OPC), Ol Jogi and Borana.
Borana Conservancy was the recipient of training for the Conservancy’s National Police Reservists (NPR). They attended a bi-annual tactics refresher-training course, which took place over a period of two weeks in February 2017. A total of 27 rangers, including their commanders, were trained. Emphasis was placed majorly on operational deployments, planning and live field firing. Laikipia regional training providers – 51 Degrees, conducted the training. Additional training on aviation support for crime scenes was provided by Space for Giants. Over 90% of Borana rangers were able to complete the training.
Borana Conservancy also spent part of their grant portion to purchase ranger uniforms, which included: shirts, trousers, belts, socks, berets and jackets. “These ranger uniforms have greatly boosted morale. We are seeing an increased confidence in executing duties and that is very important in our line of work”, says Abdi Sora, General Manager, Borana Conservancy.
Ol Pejeta and Ol Jogi Conservancies used their grant portions along similar lines.
In the Laikipia landscape, the 6 rhino conservancies (Solio, OPC, Ol Jogi, Borana, and Il Ngwesi, and Lewa) have organised around the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries (APLRS). Started in 1988, the Association is among the most successful private-sector groups to support wildlife conservation, with a particular focus on black and white rhino conservation in Kenya. This group hosts about 50% of the nation’s total black rhino population, and more than 70% of the nation’s white rhino population. And of course who can forget that OPC hosts the last three northern white rhinos on earth!
LWF continues to work with these rhino conservancies to gather more support for the high costs of rhino conservation. Our efforts include more grants, and working with KWS and the Kenya Government to get wildlife conservation and rhino conservation recognised as a land use, with appropriate subsidies and incentives.
Stay tuned for updates on our expansion of this program, and additional funding.