Benard Gitau and Noah Cheploen
The Union of Veterinary Practitioners Kenya (UVPK) has issued a seven day ultimatum to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to reinstate workers suspended over death of 10 rhinos at Tsavo national Park.
Chairman Benson Kibore said the report relied on to suspend the officers was illegal as it was compiled by people of questionable character.
“The inquiry is an illegality as it was conducted by David Zimmerman from South Africa, who is not registered by Kenya Veterinary Board and Patrick Omondi, who was fired by the board,” he said.
He said the Head of Veterinary and Capture Services, Isaac Leekolol, among others, were being sacrificed to appease the public. “Failure to reinstate them, we are going to carry out a professional revolution especially in the wildlife and livestock sector which contributes more than Sh1 trillion in the economy,” said Kibore.
The Africa Veterinary Technicians Association (AVTA) national chairman Samuel Kahariri said the report should be discarded and a fresh probe conducted by Kenya Veterinary Board.
He said the KWS Act should be amended to allow Director of Veterinary Services to sit in the board to give professional advice.
“We also want a workload analysis of the few vets employed by KWS to safeguard our wildlife. We have less than 10 vet doctors working in 54 national parks and game reserves,” said Kahariri.
He said KWS operates 50 per cent short of the requisite number.
Meanwhile, the vets opposed the recent appointment and gazzetement of KWS board members saying it is against the interest of the public. “Those names should be degazetted and members of the public consulted on proposed members suitability,” said Kibore.
Meanwhile, two Kenya Wildlife Service rangers are being investigated over the killing of a 12-year- old male rhino by poachers at the Lake Nakuru National Park two days ago. Although park’s senior warden Catherine Wambani, who was holed up in a meeting with county security chiefs for several hours, remained tight-lipped over the matter; it has emerged that two rangers were disarmed on Tuesday.
One of the officers investigating the matter told the People Daily that the two were on duty near the scene on that fateful night.
At the same time, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has urged persons charged with management of parks to carry out speedy investigations to ensure culprits are brought to book. He said protection of wildlife should not be taken casually terming the current state of affairs as a blow to tourism.