An additional 307 wildlife rangers have been deployed to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve to boost security and fight poaching.
The rangers were trained at the Manyani Wildlife Training College for the last nine months and graduated on Tuesday at ceremony attended by KWS Director Kitili Mbathi, Narok Governor Samuel Tunai and Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchella.
They will join 140 rangers already serving in the Mara.
Their deployment comes amid concerns of an increase in cases of poaching during the current wildebeest migration season.
The migration, which marks the high tourist season in the reserve, kicked off last month and is expected to last until October.
Statistics by wildlife experts show that in the last two years, the numbers in the wildebeest have been decreasing due to poaching.
Experts believe that between 40,000 and 100,000 wildebeests are poached every year as they migrate from Tanzania to Kenya.
During the migration, poachers set up snares to trap wildebeests, but end up injuring and killing other wildlife including zebras, giraffes, hyenas and elephants.
Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012 with 47 of them killed in the Maasai Mara in 2015.
According to the Mara Serengeti Eco-system Coordinator Nick Ole Murero, cases of poaching increase whenever the wildebeests cross over to the Mara from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
“When the animals come into Kenya there is this big influx of poachers who take advantage of both wildlife and human congestion in the reserve,” he said.
“The majority of the poachers come from neighboring Tanzania who sneak over the fenceless border and hunt animals for bush meat,” he added.
Mr Mumero lauded the county government’s move to hire the rangers, adding that urgent measures should be put in place to end the killing of wildebeests, and the endangered species like lions,
Governor Tunai, who presided over the graduation ceremony, said the decision to train more rangers was driven by concern about the high poaching incidents in the reserve.
He said the rangers will be mandated to provide 24 hours surveillance in and around the reserve.