July was the driest since we started operations in the Mara – one very local storm near Ngiro-are and one or two showers in the West and South of the Triangle.
There were some sporadic storms throughout the first three weeks, thereafter the weather was wonderfully warm and clear, with hot sunny days and cool clear nights.
Cllr Mutundei was elected as Chairman of the County Council of Trans Mara, Cllr D Kerenke from Oloirien Ward was elected as Chairman of the Game and Forests sub-committee.
The review team has delayed the start of their work and we are awaiting a new date for this evaluation.
The female rhino remains on the other side of the Reserve. The Chief Executive met with Mr Martin Mlama of KWS and discussed the prospect of introducing more rhino into the Triangle. There are two options being considered: one is to introduce some white rhino and see how they do and the other is to bring in two or three black rhino. No decision has been made and Mr Mlama is due to visit the Triangle in the near future for further discussions.
The Chief Executive attended a three-day workshop at the KWS training center in Naivasha from Sunday the 16th February. The meeting was convened by Dr R Leakey to discuss his proposed protected areas endowment fund. The main aim of the fund will be to provide financial support to protected areas in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and will be aimed at providing budgetary support to areas that demonstrate good management but have unavoidable shortfalls.
The Chief Executive met with the landowners from Olonana on the 8th February – they presented the Conservancy with an ultimatum that they would start collecting Park entry fees from the first March 2003. There was a follow-up meeting on the 28th in which they stated they would accept a percentage of park entrance fees and suggested between 10-12%. This proposal now needs discussion and approval by the Council and Mara Conservancy.
Two staff members from PACT visited the Triangle between the 6 – 8th, they had the opportunity to meet with community members and will present a proposal to the Conservancy on possibly managing a community development programme in collaboration with the Conservancy.
The Chief Executive met with the Chairman on three occasions to discuss various issues.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Philip Coulson of Kaplan & Stratton Advocates on two occasions to discuss board and governance issues relating to the Mara Conservancy.
There will be a court hearing on the 18th March to deliberate on the fee note issued by Ms Doreen Nasieku Pussy to the Mara Conservancy for preparing the Management Agreement.
A series of meetings have been held between the Conservancy and the owners of Oloololo Game Ranch to review the possibility of the Conservancy entering into a management or lease agreement with Oloololo.
A very uncomplimentary article was written on the Conservancy by Mr Parsaloi ole Kantai in the Ecoforum magazine. Some of the comments in the article may be considered slanderous and a legal opinion may be sought on them.
Tourist numbers continued to fluctuate throughout February, with projections of a 20% decline in revenue over the same month in the previous year. The prognosis for the next few months will be continued reduction in tourist numbers – at least until the Iraq issue is resolved.
The Chief Executive and Mr J Baxendale met with Mr Mahmud Janmohamed, Mr Alistair Addison and Mr Shadrack Karabillo, senior members of the Serena Group to show them potential camp sites in the Triangle. Serena are interested in establishing a 40 bed tented camp downstream from Mara Serena and will prepare a concept paper for consideration by the Conservancy and County Council planning committee. There was a follow-up visit by a Serena consultant, Johan Courtland, from Tanzania to the proposed camp-sites.
A fourth KPSGA exam was held at Mara Serena on the 12th – five of the 15 participants passed. Mara Serena and Mpata Club still have two drivers each who have not passed the exam. We have had to issue a clarification to the industry that it is not a mandatory requirement for driver/guides operating in the Triangle to have a KPSGA qualification.
There were 11 arrests during the month, bringing the total to 183. Four Maasai were arrested for illegal grazing in the Reserve – they were held overnight and then released after a meeting with the cattle owners. There is a constant problem with grazing in the Reserve near Oloololo Gate, with claims that livestock owners have been granted permission to graze their cattle near Sankuria; an area below Ol Kurruk, by the Council.
On the 3rd three out of a group of four wa Kuria were arrested at 3.00 am by one of our teams camping in the field near Ol Donyo Nasipa along the Tanzanian Border. The poachers seem to have changed their method of operation – they leave home with dogs, come down off the escarpment after dark and start hunting around midnight and return home before dawn. This particular group started hunting at 1.00 am and had killed four Thompson’s gazelle by the time they were apprehended.
On the night of the 21st there was a report of stolen cattle along the escarpment – we mobilized two teams at midnight to close off potential trekking routes for the stolen cattle. The cattle were recovered before they entered the Reserve.
On the 22nd tracks of four people were seen entering the Reserve – they were followed until they crossed the Mara River and entered the Narok side of the Reserve. Our team followed the tracks across the river but unfortunately lost them in one of the thickets near the Talek/Mara River junction.
On the 24th four people were arrested in a joint patrol with our Tanzanian counterparts from Kinyangaga outpost. The patrol was operating along the Mara River between 20 and 30 Kms downstream from Mara Bridge and came across several groups of poachers. Two impala had been killed by one of the groups and five wire snares recovered.
On the 28th one person was seen downstream from Mara Serena by Warden E Nkoitoi – it appears that a group of poachers operating on the other side of the river had speared a hippo. The hippo had apparently crossed the river and was being followed – we found neither the person nor the hippo.
One warthog resident at Olonana was shot with an arrow in the muzzle, most probably by young a Masai herdsman from one of the villages surrounding Olonana. The arrow was removed by some of the elders.
There has been a fair amount of night hunting by poachers on the Tanzanian side of the border below Mlima Tatu. One of our night patrols just missed arresting a group on the night of the 27th – we will now concentrate on night patrols and ambushes on known paths.
Mr David Seur, the Senior Warden, took his leave in February.
The Chief Executive took two days off in February and is planning to take a week off from the 10th to the 18th March.
Mr Kayhan Ostovar has been asked to come out and assist with funding proposals and preparing projects for planning committee approval. In the meantime Ms Carter Ong has volunteered to assist with some fundraising on behalf of the Conservancy. Ms Ong has been working with Save the Elephants as fundraiser and may move to the East African Wildlife Society, in the same capacity.
One of the drivers, Simon Kinuthia, was dismissed for drinking whilst on duty in Kilgoris. We will not replace him but rather allocate vehicles to senior staff with driving licences and only one person employed as driver.
All the non-Council staff have been given one year contracts – we would like to give Council staff contracts as well.
Two staff meetings have been held to discuss general staff issues – the Conservancy staff have all agreed to contribute Ksh 100 per month towards a staff welfare fund and would also like to establish their own savings co-operative.
We improved the rain water catchment system at Mara Bridge.
The grader has repaired the main Oloololo to Mara Bridge road and also the main road to Ngiro-are. We have placed murram on two of the worst sections of road between Mara Serena and Oloololo gate and continue to work on these sections.
We have cut grass on more game viewing tracks.
Safaricom have erected a 26 metre (90 foot) mast, disguised as a tree at Mara Serena. This is the first “tree” in Africa, outside South Africa. There is now mobile phone communication within a one-kilometer radius of Serena – a stipulation made by the County Council for mobile phone operations in the Mara. The Conservancy and Mara Serena have placed their VHF antennae on this mast – enabling us to pull down the other masts and slightly increase coverage.
Revenue and Accounts
M/s Deloitte & Touche have completed the audit and produced a final set of accounts, copies of which have been sent to all directors.
Report on focus for February
Focus for March
- Continue with work on road between Oloololo and Mara Serena;
- Clear culverts and drainage ditches in preparation for the next rains;
- Work with Serena on “Serena Under Canvas” and prepare documents for planning committee;
- Work with Oloololo Game Ranch on management agreement;
- Host Council members in the Mara;
- Work on affidavits for court case with D N Pussy;
- Get immigration clearance for K Ostovar to work in Kenya;
- qComplete trial balance on first six month’s accounts for 2002/3;
- qGet Board approval for 2001/2 audited accounts;
- qMeet with Leslie Roach and Alison Jones;