With the 2022 Wildlife Ranger Challenge well underway, in our latest instalment, we spoke with the first ever Wildlife Ranger Award winner, Edward Ndiritu, to see what he’s been up to since 2015.
Q: How does it feel to have been the first ever winner of the Wildlife Ranger Award?
It is an honourable feeling to be the first ever winner of the Wildlife Ranger Award. It feels good to know that there are people and organisations out there that appreciate the work of the rangers and their immense input into wildlife conservation. The award was motivating, not only for me but for the rest of the rangers who now feel valued.
Q: How has your work developed since winning your award?
Since winning the award, my work has developed immensely at the local, regional, and national level. Locally, I have been incepted into the Meru and Isiolo Court Users Committee to influence policies towards strengthening the security of people and wildlife/environmental conservation. I’m also sitting in the county security committee, chiefly to advise on conservation matters. Nationally, I am in charge of the National Police Reservists (NPR) at the county level and I’m consulted from time to time by the NPR director on regional security matters.
Q: How did winning your award impact your work on the ground?
Winning the award played a significant role in elevating my position in conservation and authority in operational and strategic security planning. The security stakeholders across the landscape increasingly began to believe in the strategies used by Lewa to curb poaching and other crimes, and in the process, the level of security improved in the wider area.
Also, the community adjacent to the conservation area began to believe in my abilities to shape security stability. In so doing, Lewa has realised an even closer working relationship with the community. We are approaching the optimal level of peaceful coexistence between wildlife and people because of the closer ties we have been able to forge since winning the award.
Q: How has the landscape for conservation changed since winning your award? What new challenges are you facing?
Poaching remains a threat in conservation and across the landscape. The poaching syndicates have continued to reinvent their tactics in an attempt to infiltrate protected areas. To cope with these new developments, our teams have to be alert, proactive, and always on the look-out.
Also, human-wildlife conflict has been on the rise over time due to population growth, leading to human activities along the wildlife corridors that interfere with the movement of wildlife, such as elephants. Our security teams have been at the top of their game to ensure that conflicts do not become fatal. Currently, despite the increased number of conflicts, the proactive nature of our patrols and responses have significantly reduced the number of fatalities, deaths of wildlife, livestock deaths from predatory attacks, and farm inversions.
Q: Of the species you work with, which do you think face the greatest threats?
Rhino – because of the huge demand for rhino horns and the cost of securing rhino habitat
Q: What have been your major successes since winning your award?
- Increased motivation of the rangers whose belief in conservation efforts have since been reinforced, thus reducing the chances of being compromised by poaching syndicates
- Improved networking and more involvement with security stakeholders at the local, regional, and, national level
- Strengthened community engagement