Whenever we think about a Safari, a hike, mountaineering, snorkeling, nature walks or picnicking, several things come to mind, such as the vehicles, driver guides, community guides, park fees, conservation fees and wildlife among others. Rarely, do the Rangers and Wardens cross our minds, probably because we look at them as the people who have been employed and are paid to do what they do. Today, I choose to dedicate this article to the Rangers and Wardens in our beloved country Kenya. It’s been a long time coming.
First, I want to acknowledge that I have not met people who are more helpful and dedicated than the Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers, Forest Rangers and Wardens. They are armed with a lot of information about the park which they are ready to share during a briefing.
They are also ready to hike with you to the end without question, and they offer support and help whenever called upon. With them safety is assured for everyone, regardless of their status and they are always humble.
Their passion for conservation is unmatched. I recently interacted with a few Rangers and Wardens at Aberdare National park. I learnt that aside from the basic education and training given to them, conservation and love for wildlife has to come from a true place of passion.
There are Rangers who walk along the 400 km perimeter fence to ensure that it is intact. Some treat animals as their family members. I would not be surprised to learn that some of them cried over the departed Sudan, the last male white rhino at Ol pejeta.
It is very unfortunate that in the wild, the biggest threat to Rangers and Wardens are actually humans. You may probably think that the reason they are always armed is to handle any animal that charges at them, while in fact the major threat is from poachers.
There are people out there who are not fazed if these animals go extinct, as long as their selfish interests are met. A while back, I wrote an article called The Last of the Rhinos. I narrated the story of a Rhino that got shot, the ordeal leaving others traumatized. It was shot while still under heavy security from rangers. This should tell you how dangerous poachers can be.
Every time we visit a park, we enjoy the view of animals, fresh air and seeing physical features such as waterholes, waterfalls, and caves. They are preserved in their natural state by Wardens and Rangers.
They are the reason why the next generation after us will get a similar experience. They take up a myriad of roles that sometimes put them in vulnerable situations. They are ambassadors and stewards of a public resource, but also have full police authority which includes using lethal force when necessary. More often than not, the Rangers are caught in a situation where their spirits are fired up to help, but impossible in practice.
Rangers tend to agree with Sylvia Dolson, who said, “Walk in kindness toward the Earth and every living being. Without kindness and compassion for all of Mother Nature’s creatures, there can be no true joy; no internal peace, no happiness. Happiness flows from caring for all sentient beings as if they were your own family, because in essence they are. We are all connected to each other and to the Earth.”
Our wildlife and natural resources are in the hands of Rangers and Wardens. The least we can do is appreciate them. When you visit a park, forest or conservation, say hello to them, chat with them and seek to know about their major challenges.
We also have an obligation to educate our kids and those who do not seem to understand the importance of wildlife and our natural resources. We need to paint the picture of extinction in our minds so that we understand the gravity of us failing to take care of them. The climate changes we are experiencing, the lack of rainfall, and the drying rivers are as a result of interfering with our natural resources. We need to join hands with Rangers and Wardens in protecting and conserving our environment.
Until next time, keep travelling……..
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