Community Ranger graduations mark a proud moment in helping protect Amboseli elephants
The loud voice of the parade commander and a booming brass band fill the air, competing with the melodies of chirping birds.
Over a gruelling 12 weeks, 10 International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) sponsored community rangers from Olgulului-Ololarashi group ranch (OOGR) in Amboseli, have successfully transitioned from lanky ex-moran (young Maasai warriors) to trim, physically fit, responsive and tough-looking wildlife protection officers.
According to the Guest of Honour, KWS Director Mr William K Kiprono, 70 per cent of Kenya’s tourism revenue is generated from wildlife – mostly from visitors keen to view our famous herds of elephants. Tourism generates a massive income for Kenya, US $1.19-billion in 2011and US $1.15 billion in 2012. So most people here appreciate the need to protect and save our most important tourism driver.
Amboseli National Park has been a haven for elephants since the 70s. They survived the red-hot ivory poaching scourge of the 1970s and 80s, due largely to the efforts of the local Maasai Community. This remains true, and Amboseli registered the lowest levels of elephant poaching in Kenya in 2011 and 2012. This is according to Mr. Kiprono, at the graduation parade.
Marching smartly in formation, brick red dust swirling around their heels, the 10 newly rated community scouts from Olgulului-Olarashi Group Ranch brought a proud smile to the face of their Chairman, Mr. Daniel Leturesh, from up on the VIP dais.
“This is the moment we have been waiting for… the graduation of our sons as qualified and professional wildlife protection officers, ready to defend our elephants and their habitats. Thanks to IFAW for making this possible,” Chairman Leturesh told the families, friends and gathered dignitaries.
It was a proud moment for me as well, knowing that IFAW – thanks to the generosity of our loyal supporters – is able to protect the precious wildlife, particularly the elephants of Amboseli, and the communities they live among.
IFAW recognizes that the future of elephant conservation in Amboseli lies in the hands of the local Maasai community and so we empower them to take charge. The impact on these young men is extensive, life changing and permanent. Your donations mean a lifetime of wildlife protection from highly trained, motivated officers and that, in turn, promises Amboseli’s elephants a free and secure natural habitat for decades on end.