News broke late yesterday that the CEO of Kenya Wildlife Services, Dr. Julius Kipngetich has tendered his resignation, effective immediately, and that the Board of Trustees of KWS has accepted his decision.
Having been at the helm of KWS for 8 years, longer than most of his predecessors, Dr. Julius and that even his critics have to grudgingly admit, turned the Kenya Wildlife Service around from a being in a state of disorientation, apathy and in fact a mess or sorts into a corporate entity run as efficiently as it is possible, given the political constraints Kenyas parastatals are operating under.
Kenyas national parks underwent rebranding to a large extent, gate collections were streamlined with the introduction of electronic payment methods, the former animal orphanage transformed into the Nairobi Safari Walk and a more state of the art organizational structure introduced to run KWS more like a business and less like a parastatal. Challenges grew however when poaching reared its ugly head again, and drought conditions over several of his 8 years at the top brought a rapid increase in human wildlife conflicts to the forefront, with recent killings outside Nairobi of several lions only the tip of the iceberg. In particular in the Tsavo area, widespread escapes by elephant have raised tensions as a result and KWS had to commit major resources to first containing the outbreaks before then fencing sections of Tsavo West to protect local communities now rapidly advancing to the park boundaries inspite of poor soil conditions, from game eating up their sparse crops.
But where there is success there are also failures, on both an institutional and a personal level. Conservationists claim that for certain the War on Poaching is not being won, inspite of a massive rise in the capture of blood ivory contraband, with a few even saying the battle is being lost outright, and earlier this year did the instigated arrest of the CEO of EcoTourism Kenya wreck Dr. Julius personal reputation, when over an argument of disputed poaching figures an obscure law was dug up to put the enemy behind bars for a bit, before common sense, and intense pressure, made Dr. Julius change his mind to withdraw charges.
But there is speculation that the trappings of office in the end created a crucial gap with the conservation fraternity at large, and the lion killings, and the saga of the relocation of three cheetah cubs from the Mara conservancy to Langata, where subsequently one cub died, did certainly not help.
Many achievements no doubt will be left as Dr. Julius legacy, having transformed the KWS of old into a new entity, but the more negative events of in particular this year will also be remembered.
David Mwiraria, the Chairman of KWS, issued the following statement overnight:
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wishes to announce that the Director, Julius Kipngetich, CBS is leaving the Organization after eight years of great service, commitment and dedication. He is leaving to pursue personal interests. His successor will be announced at a later date. The Board of Trustees and Senior Management Team remain committed to the organizational excellence and a smooth transition.
Director Kipngetich has given KWS great leadership and important initiatives over the past eight years. Under his leadership KWS has transformed from a poorly run and managed organization to a tower of strength that is emulated by others and a giant to reckon with in management and in conservation industry.
Talking to the Senior Managers on his transition, Mr. Kipngetich said: I have enjoyed every one of my eight years with this great Organization, and I leave it today in a position for a strong future. I am proud of my fellow employees and I wish them the very best
I have no doubt that the team that is left behind have the capability and the competence to drive the business of the organization to greater heights. I am proud of what Julius has done and I wish him well as he joins the outside world.
Hon. David Mwiraria, EGH
Chairman, Board of Trustees
What is left for this correspondent is to wish Dr. Julius well in his future endeavours and career. Gods Speed my friend!