The government will spend Sh27 million in the ongoing training of wildlife officers from South Sudan in a bid to safeguard the conservation of wildlife in the East African region.
KWS director Julius Kipngetich said the programme is part of an on-going training and capacity building initiative between the two governments. He was speaking during the graduation of 39 wildlife officers from the Republic of South Sudan at the Kenya Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Academy at Manyani in the Tsavo West National Park last week. This is the first group of officers to be trained in Kenya since South Sudan became a republic on July 9, 2011.
The programme was launched after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 when Kenya pledged to train South Sudan government employees in various Kenyan Institutions. "Kenya has a long history of managing wildlife and will strive to ensure that South Sudan will endeavour to emulate and follow the same route," said Kipngetich.
He said Kenya is ready to train wildlife officials on various skills related to wildlife conservation and management to enhance their capacity in wildlife protection. "We hope the 39 officers, who have been undergoing an intensive training in anti-poaching and wildlife security operations at the academy will boost wildlife conservation and the tourism industry in the region," he said. The graduation was attended by a representative of the South Sudan Embassy in Kenya Riak Kiir Deng.
He thanked the Kenyan government for its continued support to South Sudan citing the training course as part of human capacity transformation which will enable the young nation to excel economically. He said the civil war in the country that resulted to 21 years of unrest had led to an immense depletion of wildlife numbers because of mismanagement of parks. "Survey studies have shown that Boma National Park as well as the Sudd Wetland and Southern National Park near Congo provided habitats for large populations of Kobs and Topis (Two types of antelope) buffalos, elephants among others but the numbers have since reduced," he said.
He told the officers to share the knowledge and skills they had acquired from the training with their colleagues back home. The 39 are part of a group of 79 officers, 40 of whom are being trained at the KWS Institute in Naivasha. A total of 126 wildlife officers have so far been trained both at the KWS Institute, Naivasha and the Law Enforcement Academy in Tsavo West National Park. In December 2009, the first batch of 60 officers graduated from Naivasha and Law Enforcement Academy. The Wildlife Conservation and management sector has been one of the beneficiaries of the training programme being coordinated on behalf of the Kenyan Government by the Kenya South Sudan Liaison Office.