Taita- Taveta, Kenya: Counties most affected by human-wildlife conflicts are the major beneficiaries of the just concluded Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger recruitment exercise, the agency has reported.
Senior KWS officials said yesterday that wildlife conflict hotspot counties like Taita-Taveta, Kwale, Narok and Laikipia were allocated 15 slots each while the rest had 10.
KWS Spokesman Paul Gathitu and Manyani KWS Law Enforcement Academy Commandant Dickson Lesimirdana said the counties rocked by wildlife conflicts had more slots.
They spoke as the 600 recruits started their six months intensive paramilitary and wildlife conservation techniques training at the facility in Taita-Taveta County.
But out of the six hundred recruits only 99 are female.
Residents and leaders in the region have been complaining that the conservation body had been giving them a raw deal in recruitments and awarding of tenders.
They have also been complaining that despite the fact that the training facility is located in the region, it had only been benefiting outsiders in areas of employment at the expense of the local community.
“Outsiders have been benefiting from recruitment and tenders. The local community has always been given a raw deal in areas of recruitment of rangers and awarding of tenders, “Martha Shighadi, a women leader, complained at a recent stakeholders meeting in Voi town.
Residents have been demanding for more worker slots and projects taking into account that about 60 per cent of the total land area is occupied by the vast Tsavo National Park.
Mr Lesimirdana however said the local community was benefiting more in tenders than outsiders saying 60 per cent of the tenders at the training facility goes to the local community with only 40 per cent going to outsiders.
“We have not in any way locked out locals in awarding of tenders. In fact, they are supplying more goods and services to the facility than outsiders,” said Lesimirdana.
The KWS officials said the Government will continue seeking solutions to the wildlife menace.
“We are implementing development projects geared towards uplifting the living standards of the communities bordering national parks,” said Mr Gathitu.
“We’ll have now more eyes on the ground to effectively fight criminals once the rangers complete their paramilitary training,” Gathitu said.
He said the conservation body will continue reaching out to communities and streamlining the wildlife industry through sustained community interaction.
He said only few women were recruited due to the nature of the work.