By Kelly Ngeti
On 3rd March 2016, the world celebrated the existence of wild animals, putting emphasize on their rights to exist peacefully. The day’s theme “the future of wild animals is in our hands” was a direct message to all humanity to refrain from activities that endangers their peaceful existence.
In Mombasa the day was marked in style. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had teamed up with other stakeholders in marking the day. The Cynesa team in Mombasa were part of those who took part in the initial planning and participated on the day at the KWS offices at Pirates.
The day which brought together Primary and Secondary schools, Cynesa, Kenya wildlife clubs, the rangers, their subordinate staff and other community members began with a cleanup exercise along the shores of Jomo Kenyatta public beach where a total of 325 kgs of thrash was collected.
Later the participants settled down under the shade of trees where the rangers got to take them through their job description and the risks they face each day to protect wild animals.
One major challenge that came out clearly was poaching. The rangers explained how individuals conspire to kill wild animals for their tusks or skin. The poachers are also very dangerous as they carry guns with them which not only aim at killing the animals but also the rangers as they are a hurdle to their illegal work.
However the ranger’s credibility was also put into question by participants, even when acknowledging their hard and tough work, questioning how such illegal killings take place and yet the poachers go scot free, or when arrested, very shallow cases are built against them leaving the court with no choice but to release them. The question was put with the feeling that some rangers collude with the poachers. The rangers were asked to become more serious about fighting the poaching.
The rangers took up the challenge whilst also cautioning the public against illegal hunting, deforestation, illegal dumping of waste and other harmful products into the waters and general destruction of the ecosystem. KWS explained that they are only custodians of the wild animals and therefore as many citizens should take up the role to protect them for the benefit of everyone.
Later an open discussion on the theme was created where participants engaged each other and the rangers on the rights of wild animals as well as how they contribute positively to our economy.
Cynesa team concluded the discussions by making a presentation through a poem named “Pori iwe ya wanyama” a Swahili sentence meaning “Let the forest belong to the animals”. The poem was aimed at raising awareness on illegal activities including deforestation and poaching. It further highlighted the economic consequences these activities pose to national economy and to our own survival. The poem had an ending where all the concerned agree to leave the forest for the animals.
KWS also took the opportunity to award some of the most outstanding rangers, staff, schools and organizations. The award named “Marine protection Champion” was given to individuals and groups who had done exemplary work in protecting the marine and the environment.
Apart from marking the day, the event provided a platform for learning, sharing and interacting and it could be summed up as being very successful.
Kelly Ngeti is a Core member and volunteer coast region coordinator of Cynesa