Winners, finalists, and rangers share a moment of excitement after Kenya scooped three trophies at the just concluded Africa Conservation Awards. (Jayne Rose/Standard)

Kenya has scooped three trophies at the just-concluded African Conservation Awards ceremony held in Kasane, Botswana, to recognise the country’s effort in safeguarding natural heritage through empowering rangers in conservancies. 

The African Conservation Award ceremony coincided with the second Ranger’s Congress in Africa on September 17 in Kasane.

The awards were in recognition of the support given to rangers to empower them to perform their work effectively as they dispensed their duties of safeguarding Africa’s natural heritage. 

Kenya Association of Wildlife (KWCA) won the trophy for best Conservation Supporter Category, and Simba Community Wildlife Scouts from Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust in Amboseli won the award for best Conservation Team category. In contrast, Mt Kenya Trust won the first runner-up in the same category. 

KWCA won the best award in the Conservation Supporter category for its work in supporting the establishment of the Association of Wildlife Conservancy Rangers in Kenya, which seeks to build recognition and capacity of rangers at the local, national and international levels. 

Receiving the award on behalf of KWCA at the Kasane event, Faria Tarus, programme officer at KWCA, said in supporting the rangers, the organisation invested in empowering the rangers who are at the forefront of safeguarding the natural heritage.  “It is an honour to receive this award for the best conservation supporter, indeed it is not only a win for KWCA but its member conservancies and partners whose efforts have contributed to conservation in Kenya,” Tarus said.  True to this support, Joyce Mbataru, Communications and Development officer, KWCA, said the national umbrella association for conservancies in Kenya, has promoted professionalism through training, skills enhancement, capacity building, and harmonising standards for the conservancy ranger workforce. 

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“In 2019, KWCA helped unlock government funding through the Covid-19 Economic Stimulus Programme to support conservancy rangers’ salaries, who we honour or their exemplary work,” said Mbataru. 

Others representing the country at the event were Dorcas Ntete from MWCT Simba scouts, who received the award for the best conservation team, and Edward Ndirutu from the Lewa Conservancy, who received the 1st runner-up for the Best Conservation Team category. 

Simba won the Best Conservation Team for monitoring wildlife data and engaging the communities to analyse the data and help mitigate human-wildlife conflict. Mt Kenya Trust scooped the first runners-up for Best Conservation Team.

The Trust employs innovative approaches to decrease poaching, logging, and illegal activities geared towards protecting and conserving the forested expanse around a Unesco World Heritage Site in Mt Kenya. 

In appreciating the Kenya win, Dickson Kaelo, CEO of KWCA said the award strengthens the resolve to continue working with rangers, by elevating their voices, linking them with information, and providing access to technical resources to enable them to tackle challenges that African conservation faces today. 

The Africa Conservation Awards are held annually to recognise the work of rangers and conservation supporters in raising awareness of the work rangers do to safeguard natural assets.