Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has developed sufficient human and technical resources to ensure the safety of tourists visiting national parks and game reserves. Over the past five years, KWS has been taking steps to establish an effective security machinery to stamp out incidents of attacks on tourists that caused great concern in the industry in the late 1980s.
In 1990, a select unit of young men, including rangers and their officers, underwent initial paramilitary training in combat, intelligence and investigations. Today, this 500-man strong unit forms the core of the KWS security machinery.
Men from this unit are currently distributed in functional companies throughout the country with special emphasis on key wildlife and tourism areas. To ensure the required level of skill and attitude is maintained, KWS has put into place a training and retraining programme.
For efficiency and effectiveness, the field units are provided with all the necessary equipment. These include well serviced combat gear, vehicles, and communication and navigational electronics. The unit is also backed up by an airwing: an aircraft is attached to every company. Rapid deployment helicopters and caravans are maintained at the headquarters’ hangar ready for any emergency.
All these security arrangements ensure not only tourist security against any possible attacks, but also mobility and speedy evacuations from the field for any injured officers or visitors. The unit has been used on a number of occasions to rescue visitors attacked by wildlife, or who fall sick from natural causes, to hospitals.
To further enhance tourist security within the parks, a new electronic system known as Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) is currently under test at Tsavo National Park. If this meets the necessary requirements, the technology will enable the headquarters to monitor the movement of every tourist vehicle within the parks. In the event of a threat to security an early warning will be received, and rapid response deployed.