Like a lot of young Samburu boys, Richard spent his youth juggling family livestock duties with school work. A standard school holiday for him and his friends involved long days out in the bush with the cattle and goats; finding the best forage, keeping an eye out for lions, and killing the time playing football with dried balls of elephant dung. Two decades later, and Richard Lokorukoru has just arrested his 21st elephant poacher on this same turf, as Head of Wildlife and Security of one of the largest community conservancies in northern Kenya. He heads up a team of 79 wildlife rangers, has paramilitary training under his belt, and has impounded over 30 pieces of ivory tusks destined for the black markets.
“When I was young, I had enormous interactions with wildlife, who freely co-grazing alongside my herds. I developed a keen interest in conservation and protection of wildlife.” Says Richard. This love of wildlife lead him to pursue a Diploma in Wildlife Management from the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute in 2007. After completing his diploma, Richard returned to his homeland, which had become the Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust. He became Head of Wildlife Security and Monitoring in 2010.
“Two years after my recruitment with Namunyak, I had the opportunity to do a three month paramilitary training course at the Kenya Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Academy. I was crowned the Best Overall Trainee among the 327 trainees, which was a big achievement for me. I returned to the same institute a year later for another three months’ training on leadership, so this job has really allowed me to gain a lot of experience.”
In his five and half year tenure at the helm of Namunyak’s security section, Richard has had immense achievements in both active anti-poaching initiatives and in augmenting support towards wildlife and human security from the local communities, Government security agencies and other stakeholders of Namunyak.
In the field, Richard has so far led for the arrest of 21 armed poachers – most of whom have been legally charged in the courts of law. He has recovered of 21 illegal fire arms and impounded over 30 pieces of ivory destined for the black markets. He is also credited for efforts in creating an effective partnership among the Conservancy Security team, the Kenya Government Security Agencies and the local community in addressing issues surrounding wildlife, human and livestock security. A key product of these effective partnerships is the founding of voluntary community informers, who are now positioned at all major security hotspots of the Namunyak Conservancy – a significant achievement given the vast scale of the Conservancy (324,000hectares).