The Chairman of KWS’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Walter Raria Koipaton, visited KWS headquarters, January 5th, 2023 where he had his inaugural address to staff.
The incoming Chair of the BoT thanked His Excellency president Dr. William Ruto for his appointment as KWS Board Chairman. He appreciated the Service’s commendable reputation worldwide, expressing his joy at joining such an august establishment, mandated to protect wildlife for posterity. The Chairman noted the impressive plethora of skills possessed by the Acting Director General Dr. Erastus Kanga and his Management team and staff under them, adding that such resources and expertise will elevate KWS to higher levels of achievement.
Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Koipaton stressed the necessity for teamwork, reminding those assembled that all staff, regardless of whether civilian or uniformed, have an important role in keeping KWS moving forward. He congratulated the Service’s zero rhinos poached in 2022 achievement, noting staffs’ dedication to their calling even over the Christmas holidays.
The Chair singled out pressing challenges such as Human-Wildlife Conflict, poaching and Climate Change, dogging the Service, assuring staff that these challenges can be turned into opportunities if synergy is employed. The retired Lieutenant General affirmed his commitment and that of the BoT to support the Service to achieve its mandate as outlined in the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WCMA, 2013) and KWS’s Strategic Plan.
The Chairman stated that BoT and management is mandated to prioritize and uplift the working conditions and welfare of all staff in the field, especially the uniformed cadres. He said as the shield for wildlife, KWS staff and the BoT have been given an opportunity to protect Kenya’s biodiversity heritage, urging respect, togetherness and commitment in fulfilling this mandate. He added that KWS was advantaged to have a seasoned Acting Director General, given his experience both in the Service and at the Ministry of Wildlife, Tourism and Heritage.
KWS Acting Director General, Dr. Erustus Kanga welcomed the Chair of KWS’s BoT, saying that the Service’s mandate was previously somewhat stunted by not having had a BoT over the last one-and-a-half years, in particular, a Board Chair. “On mine and my staff’s behalf, I wish to extend our gratitude to His Excellency the President, for appointing you to steer this great organization, that is entrusted with conserving our precious wildlife and their habitats,” he said.
Dr. Kanga also expressed gratitude to His Excellency the President through the Chair, for being cleared to stand in and act as Director General of KWS when that need arose on December 1st, 2022. He committed himself to always strive to steer the Management and staff of KWS to deliver on the organization’s conservation mandate, without wavering, fear or favour.
The Acting DG explained to the Chair that he had hit the ground running after his appointment four weeks ago, covering substantial ground, starting with adhering to good management practices, which include holding regular Senior Management and Security Brief meetings. Dr. Kanga added that he also visited security field teams, especially the Rhino Protection teams in Nairobi, Nakuru, Meru, Tsavo East and West National Parks, Solio Rhino Sanctuary, Ithumba Station in Tsavo East and the Law Enforcement Agency at Manyani as part of his meet the staff itinerary. The Acting DG assured the Chair that all ground teams are highly motivated and equal to their mandated tasks.
Dr. Kanga stressed that today’s conservation challenges have evolved, pinpointing Climate Change as one such challenge, which the Service is grappling with as evidenced by the recent prolonged drought period that presented a wider dimension of increased Human-Wildlife Conflict countrywide, upon which the Service is mandated to respond to. Dr. Kanga added that the management is exploring priority areas for resource mobilization to bridge the budding gap in the Service’s field operations. As such, management will liaise with the Board to seek the necessary approvals to proceed, he said.
The Acting DG averred that KWS has been identified as a lead agency for the implementation of the Presidential directive to plant 15 billion trees, pledging the Service’s total support for this initiative that will enable it undertake much-needed habitat restoration in Protected Areas. Dr. Kanga stated that Management has initiated the review of KWS’s Strategic Plan, to align it with the new government’s agenda, for which the Acting DG will seek BoT’s guidance once it is fully constituted.
The Board of Trustees Chairman led the Acting Director General, Senior Management and staff in a tree-planting exercise, which saw approximately 300 tree seedlings planted within the headquarters compound.