As Safaricom Marathon celebrates 19 years of conservation and far-reaching community projects in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and beyond, more and more focus goes on to how much conservation means not just to the animals but to the thousands of people involved in the event’s lifeline.
The marathon, though primarily a
fundraising initiative, has also shown
that conservation can be creative and
inclusive as runners from all over the world brave the heat and the rough terrain to run for a worthy cause.
Witnessing the benefits of conservation.
For the past 6 years, Joseph Piroris has been in the Lewa Team, serving as more than wildlife protectors but as conversationists spreading the word on the importance of preserving our precious wildlife.
Joseph Piroris is in charge of the canine unit, and is 3rd in charge of Lewa’s anti-poaching team. He began at Lewa as a rhino monitor, was then moved to the radio room to handle all the signal traffic, promoted to the anti-poaching unit, and then promoted again, to serve under Selea and ultimately Edward Ndiritu.
According to him, Lewa has a beautiful policy of recruiting at the bottom and then promoting internally means that those with the most aptitude and who are thoroughly trusted can rise up through the ranks into positions of great responsibility. This can be seen with examples of some of his workers: Rianto Kishamba, the father and son duo Kuntari and Martin Leperere and the infamous former poacher turned conservationist Kapuna ‘Nanyuki’ Lepale.
The journey so far
Being part of the command in the Anti-poaching unit, training, logistics and preparedness of him and his rangers are an paramount part of his day-to-day schedule.
“We have to make sure that we are always well prepared. Before, some of the challenges we faced included lack of sufficient equipment but the support of the Safaricom Marathon has ensured that we’re always well stocked,” he says.
Although there haven’t been any rhino poaching incidents on Lewa for some time, the canine unit’s help is often requested for incidents in the surrounding community areas.
“The past few years have been good in terms of anti-poaching. We have had 0 poaching incidences in 4 and a half years with over 26 suspected poaches arrested. We also get almost 10 calls a day from the community on suspicious activities.
Since we started including the community in conservation matters, they’ve always been pro-active in taking care of the wildlife because they feel like part of the fight to uphold the steps taken to ensure these animals are protected.”
Why I Became a Ranger and Why I’m still here
More often than not I’m asked on why I do what I do, why I risk my life to do this every morning I wake up and every day my answer is the same: Lewa holds just a part of Kenya’s outstanding wildlife that needs to be cared for and protected but what holds an even bigger part of what I do is the way the community benefits from the proceeds from the Marathon.
Over 50,000 people around this area have continued to receive funding that is injected into education, healthcare, agricultural and social development & women enterprise programs that have enjoyed the generous support of the Safaricom Marathon.
Thousands of children can now attend
school, parents who I personally know can now take care of their families and our communities have been able to turn arid land into productive land that wild animals that can also enjoy.
“Serving this community has always been at the back of my heart as my proudest achievements and I’m glad that the Safaricom Marathon has also seen us as an intergral part of their community.”