, DOHA, Mar 18 – Two Kenyans have been honoured at the ongoing international wildlife conference in Doha, Qatar.
John Laigwani and the late Joel Muga, both from the Kenya Wildlife Service were the only ones in Africa to receive the 2010 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award for their exemplary work in protecting wildlife from illicit trade.
Mr Laigwani, a sergeant at KWS, was recognised for his immense contribution to the security of wildlife in Meru and other Kenyan national parks and reserves. He successfully confronted elephant poachers and his actions led to the apprehension of several gang members and the seizure of a large cache of weapons.
Mr Joel Muga, who served as a ranger at KWS until his untimely death, was posthumously honoured for repeatedly risking his life to protect wildlife and enforce wildlife laws and regulations.
After four years of service, ranger Muga tragically lost his life on Christmas night in 2009 when he was ambushed and shot by ivory poachers and dealers north of Meru National Park.
The awards were presented by the CITES General Secretary, John Scanlon. KWS Deputy Director, Biodiversity Research and Monitoring, Dr Samuel Kasiki, received them on behalf of the two.
Others honoured included representatives from Israel, India, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Croatia, and the Philippines.
Kenya was the only country in Africa which got the awards during this year’s CITES meeting.
Hundreds of delegates attending the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES gathered at Al Dafina Foyer of the Sheraton Doha Convention Hotel earlier this week to honour the heroic efforts of 11 wildlife law enforcement officers who often put their lives in jeopardy to protect wildlife and uphold the rule of law.
The Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards are named in memory of the late Chief of the US Fish and Wildlife Service\’s Office of Law Enforcement, who pioneered the agency\’s highly effective use of covert investigations and "sting" operations to uncover illegal wildlife trade.
The awards have traditionally been presented during CITES meetings in cooperation with the Species Survival Network, an international coalition of over 80 non-governmental organisations.