There was a week of rain at the end of the month, sufficient to give the grass a green tinge, but not enough to add much water to the dams and watercourses.
The Chief Executive and Finance Manager met with the Deloitte’s Audit Team, headed by our Audit Manager for this year on the 5th. They were accompanied by two Tax experts who will appraise us of our tax liabilities, if any, this year.
The Chief Executive and Mr D Aruasa met with Mr Adrian Gardiner on the 14th. Mr Gardiner is a well-known hotelier and conservationist in South Africa and it was interesting to share views on conservation, he was staying with Mr J Buffy as a guest of Wildeye.
Mr Richard Roberts died from brain cancer on the 18th, Richard was Willie’s son and as committed and passionate about the Mara as his father (Willie founded the Mara Conservancy and was a visionary conservationist. Willie also died of cancer a short while ago). There were few people who understood the complexities of dealing with communities, tourism partners and conservation as Richard did. He was one of the very few people who was genuinely interested in the long-term protection of the ecosystem and he will be very sorely missed. Our heartfelt commiserations to his young family, his mother, sister and other close relatives, as well as his numerous admirers and friends.
The Chief Park Warden, Serengeti and a team of high-level visitors went to Nigro-are on the 18thto meet with our Warden and his team. They were very complimentary of the collaboration between ourselves and the Serengeti and said that it was appreciated, even at a high level in Government.
SafariLink’s new Dash 8 aircraft hit two wildebeest on landing at Kichwa Tembo airstrip on the 18th, the accident took one main wheel off the aircraft and it veered off the runway. Fortunately no one was injured. Both wildebeest were killed.
We held our Board meeting on the 23rd. The Audited accounts for the period ending 30thJune were reviewed and approved, subject to clarification on a couple of issues. The board also reviewed a draft agreement for Support Services to the Main Reserve, again this was approved, subject to minor changes and clarification. The Chief Executive the met with the Governor and County lawyer on the 29thand we should now have approval from both parties.
The County Finance Committee visited the Reserve on the 29thand 30th, coming to the Triangle on the 30th. We met with them and briefed them on our activities, revenue collection system, checks and balances and then gave a brief proposal on possible changes to the fee structure.
We continue to have slightly more visitors than we had this time last year. There is no doubt that the Chinese have become an important client base. Americans are still the most predominant, after Kenyans, but the Chinese now make up our second most important foreign clientele, followed by Indians.
Crossings continue to be the most popular visitor activity and on one day 180 vehicles were sighted at a crossing – the most so far recorded. These crossings come with a whole host of problems, they are mainly unmanageable and give the Mara a very bad name. It is important that we find a better way to regulate crossings and we would propose that a vehicle levy is imposed and that only a certain number of tickets can be purchased on any one day.
One of the revenue clerks tried to steal some money, he was found with US$ 3,700 in his house. He was immediately dismissed and repaid a further amount that was owed. The temptation to steal cash is always so great that we are discouraging cash and promoting other payment methods like mpesa.
We sent several members of staff with chronic health problems to Columbia Health Care, a one stop facility that does a very thorough check-up.
We have had large herds of wildebeest in the Triangle for most of the month, mainly along the border and around the salt-lick. They then moved up along the escarpment and at one point we must have had 60% of the migration on us.
A young male elephant was found dead on the 21st, it was being fed on by lions. We called in Dr Limo of the KWS/Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to conduct a post mortem, as there was a suspicious wound near the spine. Dr Limo found a whole spear in the animal. Whoever speared the animal must have been above it, probably on the escarpment or overlooking a deep ravine. The power that must have been used to drive the whole spear into its body would have been immense. The spear was a typical wa Kuria spear, as used in killing hippo. A few months ago we found an elephant that had been killed and butchered for meat in the Lemai Wedge, they had left the ivory. Was this a similar killing?
On the same day Dr Limo removed another spear – a short throwing iron - from a giraffe on the escarpment near Oloololo Gate.
Our two cheetah are doing well, and have taken up residence near Lemai in Tanzania. We continue to monitor them daily, at one point they were suffering from mange, the male more so than the female. We treated them with ivermectin, given orally in meat, and they seem to have fully recovered. They are hunting and made at least five known kills during the month, all wildebeest calves – the male seems to do most of the hunting. We will continue to intensively monitor them for another month if we can.
A total of 14 people were arrested during the month – a very low number of arrests for this time of year and a reflection on how difficult they are to catch. We recovered 1,199 snares, rescued 36 wildebeest and one topi, found nine wildebeest, three zebra and an oribi dead in snares and found where 37 wildebeest, three zebra and two topi had been butchered.
A total of 21 snares were recovered in the Lemai Wedge on the 1st, one wildebeest was found dead in a snare. That evening the Nigro-are rangers set up an ambush and managed to arrest one, of four people who came down to hunt on the Masanga Route.
A total of 76 snares were collected along the escarpment and around Kasarani in the Lemai Wedge on the 2nd, two wildebeest were found dead in the snares.
Our patrols collected a total of 178 snares between the 3rdand 8thAugust, nearly all of them within easy hunting distance of the Serengeti boundary. Five wildebeest were found dead in snares, as was one impala. Four wildebeest were rescued and four had been butchered. During this period our rangers saw ten poachers in two separate incidents, on both occasions the poachers managed to escape.
A total of 32 snares were collected on the 9th, 21 of them near Nyakita Pembe in the Lemai Wedge. The Iseiya rangers set up ambush and at midnight managed to arrest two people as they came in to check on the snares, the two were part of a larger group of 11, the rest escaped.
A total of 86 snares were collected on the 10thand 11th, mostly along the escarpment. Two wildebeest were rescued and two had been butchered. The next day, the 12th, 55 more snares were recovered and two wildebeest recovered. The Nigro-are rangers joined forces with their TANAPA counterparts on the 13thand managed to arrest one person at mid-day, as he and his companion came in to check on the snares that had been recovered the previous day.
The Nigro-are rangers managed to arrest two people on the night of the 15thnear Lemai. They saw four people approach, using the Flir Camera, two managed to escape. One of those arrested had worked in the Lemai ranger station and had been caught recycling snares that had been collected! He had been jailed for six months and h was recently released. The patrol teams managed to collect 28 snares that day, three wildebeest were rescued and one had been butchered.
The rangers continued to collect snares and recovered 204 between the 16thand 19th, all within walking distance of the escarpment and Serengeti boundary. A total of six wildebeest were rescued, seven had been butchered. One zebra was found dead and another butchered. The rangers managed to see at least 11 people on different occasions.
Our teams continued to collect snares on a daily basis, as did the de-snaring teams working in the Lemai Wedge. We collected 185 on the 20thand 21st, 11 wildebeest were rescued, as was one topi. One oribi was dead in a snare and one zebra butchered. The teams crossed the river and set up an ambush but it would appear that the staff in some of the camps had developed a signaling system to alert the poachers of ranger activity – our rangers observed flashing torches from camps and responding torches from the poachers – no one came in.
One person, of five, was arrested during a late patrol on the 22ndduring a late patrol. The poachers are now sending in children to set the snares, as they know they won’t be arrested. The adults then come in later, two snares were recovered. The following day a total of 85 snares were collected. Eight wildebeest were rescued and seven had been butchered. That night one person was arrested at 4.30 am.
Twenty two snares were collected on the 24th, four wildebeest were rescued and was dead in a snare. That day the Kilo 2 rangers arrested one person for digging a hole along the escarpment – the story of hidden treasure persists!
One person was arrested during a late patrol on the 25thnear Lugga ya Ngiri in the Lemai Wedge, he was in a group of six who were coming in to check snares. A total of 55 snares were collected that day.
Our community scouts arrested one person along the escarpment on the 26th– he acted simple but they, and the rangers, were certain that he was a poacher who had got separated from his companions and was lost. Our cheetah monitoring vehicle recovered 12 snares and rescued one wildebeest. The following day the cheetah monitors found and recovered another 18 snares and the Nigro-are rangers found a further 17.
A total of 52 snares were recovered by both patrol teams on the 28th, two topi had been butchered. That night we had a joint patrol across the river around Binamu and the rangers managed to arrest three people, they had already killed four wildebeest and one zebra with machetes when apprehended.
A total 71 snares were recovered on the 29thand 30th, 1 wildebeest was rescued.
Revenue and Accounts
Deloittes presented our Annual Audit to the Board and these were the key points:
· The Partner had reviewed the accounts;
· The accounts were unqualified;
o “the accompanying financial statements give a true and fair view of the financial position of the Company as at 30 June 2019 and if its financial performance and cash flows for the year ended in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and the requirements of the Kenyan Companies Act, 2015”;
· Profit before taxation was Ksh 29,930,993;
· Taxation was Ksh 493,210;
· Total income increased from Ksh 262,818,373 in 2018 to Ksh 307,256,380;
· Expenditure increased from 251,867,863 in 2018 to Ksh 277,335,387;
· Balloon revenue from Governors Balloons and an increase in the number of visitors contributed to most of the increase in revenue;
· Staff and administration accounted for most of the increase in expenditure;
· Cash balances stood at Ksh 67,646,482;
· The introduction of a new international accounting standards – IFRS 9 and IFRS 15 were reported;
IFRS 9 did not result in any adjustment to the accounts;
IFRS 15 deals with revenue from Contracts and Customers and requires that revenue is only recognised when the service has been satisfied. This meant that Float payments made in advance had to be reported as deferred revenue and this amounted Ksh 11,473,910 in the opening balances;
· The tax credit had been fully utilised and the Mara Conservancy was now in a taxable situation.
Repairs and maintenance
We purchased office equipment, including chairs, desks and filing cabinets.
The repeater’s mother board burnt out and will have to be replaced – we are currently using a Seiya repeater, until the other one is repaired.
We continued to do road repairs wherever necessary, and the grader touched up one or two places.
We have started on a new road between Naisukut and the lower Road to Little Governors, this is aimed at reducing the considerable environmental damage caused by vehicles when looking for rhino in the rains.
The work on the Immigration post is progressing very well, with the walls up and work has started on the roof.
We have moved the generator into a new room at the Purungat Gate, we have also installed piping to the staff compound and the water tank at the gate. We should complete installing two water tanks on a three meter stand for the main compound in early September. We intend to charge Ksh 1 per litre for the water to help cover fuel and maintenance.
We have ordered a Toyota Land Cruiser to replace one of our Land Rovers, it should be ready for collection in September. We also have quotations for a new grader and a tipper truck.
Report on focus for August
Focus for September 2019
· Complete new road;
· Collect new Land Cruiser;
· Possibly collect new grader and sell our old one;
· Complete plumbing at Purungat;
· Continue with Immigration post;
· Possibly start on a second Immigration Post on the eastern side of the Mara;
· Finalise contract for support to the Main Reserve;
· Continue tracking cheetah; and
· Possibly survey Reserve boundary.