AWF Samburu Heartland team members met with rangers, wardens, and scouts from several reserves and community ranches for a two day refresher course in Ranger Based Monitoring (RBM) on May 24th and 25th. The course was held at the Samburu Lodge, located on the bank of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Samburu National Reserve. Ms. Fiesta Warinwa, Heartland Coordinator, organized the event, which helped to clarify and refine skills the rangers learned in the RBM training held in April of 2003.
In total, 21 wardens, assistant wardens, rangers, and scouts from Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves, Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy, and Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust participated in the training.
The training entailed a combination of classroom work and field exercise. Dr. Paul Muoria, AWF Grevy zebra researcher, and Dr. Jeff Mwinzi of Moi University lectured on the importance RBM, Global Positioning System (GPS) theory, and outlined ways to solve the problems the rangers have encountered when collecting and submitting data since the initial training a year ago.
The idea is that the rangers will carry the GPS units while doing their routine patrols through the reserves to collect data on target species, human-wildlife conflict, and illegal activities, such as charcoal burning or illegal grazing. "Having members of AWF walk our patrols with us and answer our questions in the field was very helpful," said Gabriel Kepariyo, warden of Samburu National Reserve. The data collected will enable the wardens to better understand where illegal activities occur, how management can be streamlined, and to determine where resources are most needed. The data will allow AWF to better monitor target species population numbers, and how human-wildlife conflict can be minimized.
The training review was successful in refining the rangers and warden's skills and should resolve the problems they had after the initial training. Furthermore, the training session strengthened relationships between members of the neighboring reserves and communities, enabling the sharing of knowledge and collaboration of resources. Participants were enthusiastic and valued the help AWF provided them. Simon Leirana, Samburu National Reserve warden and an AWF Charlotte Fellow, says, "AWF training is very good and provides management, teaches rangers to track animals and illegal activities. Fiesta works very, very hard and I think AWF is the best NGO around."
The Samburu Heartland team hopes to continue with periodic refresher courses such as this to make sure rangers and wardens are capable of providing the most accurate data collection possible, and to ensure the success of RBM in the Heartland. With Ranger-Based Monitoring training, rangers and scouts are given the power and skill to help conserve Africa's unique wildlife and wild lands
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