On December 16, 1946, the first national park in Kenya, Nairobi National Park, was gazetted. Kenya Wildlife Service Board of Trustees and Management have since 2005 set aside the 16th of every December to commemorate and celebrate conservation heroes, both deceased and living.
And in line with this tradition, KWS commemorated Conservation Heroes’ Day on the same day this year to pay tribute to the country’s conservation heroes. This is an occasion in KWS calendar of events that is set aside for the country’s conservation fraternity to celebrate in solemn reflection and pride those who dedicate their lives and others who have paid the ultimate price protecting Kenya’s wildlife.
The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Prof Judi Wakhungu, presided over this year’s event at KWS headquarters along Lang’ata Road in Nairobi. Every year KWS facilitates families of the departed heroes to join other conservation champions to celebrate their lives.
As a sign of recognition and respect for the daunting task of protecting the country’s wildlife, KWS management sanctioned the erection of a ranger’s statue at its headquarters. The statue signifies honour for serving and fallen heroes in the line of duty and has names of departed officers inscribed on it. It is a constant reminder of the sacrifices we have to make to secure wildlife for the current and future generations.
KWS has a continuous force modernization programme geared towards building capacity for its rangers to effectively face conservation challenges. KWS security force continues to grow thanks to government support through the Ministry of Environment, and Natural Resources. This year saw the recruitment, training and deployment of two cohorts of rangers who graduated from Law Enforcement Academy at Manyani.
KWS continues to collaborate with other local and international institutions to enhance staff capacity to deal with new and emerging challenges of wildlife conservation. International Foundation for Nature (NABU), an NGO in Germany has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with KWS to support families of KWS security personnel killed in line of duty.
Through the MOU, NABU supports families of fallen heroes, particularly in paying school fees for the orphans.
This year’s celebration was attended by a host of wildlife conservation stakeholders, including former Vice President Hon Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka. Prof. Wakhungu gave the key note address that immortalized fallen heroes. The chair of KWS Board of Trustees speech was read by Board member Mr Brian Heath with KWS acting Director General Mr. Julius Kimani being the host of the event that saw all the chief guests laying wreaths at the monument bearing names of fallen conservation heroes.