December 2017

General

The weather was generally dry and sunny throughout the month and followed on less than average rainfall in November.  This is bound to impact pastoralists, especially in the eastern half of Narok County which is extremely dry.  This in turn will increase pressure on the Conservancies and the Narok portion of the Reserve.

 

We held a meeting with senior KAPS management on the 13th in the Nairobi office.  It was a good meeting and we agreed that a new contract would be tabled at the next Board meeting on the 12th January and hopefully signed thereafter.  It was also agreed that KAPS would reduce their commission to 7.5% (down from 9%) from January 1st 2018 and that Mr Samuel Kahiga would still be our main contact person in KAPS.

 

Ms Lena Munge introduced to the new County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Tourism in Narok County on the 15th.  Ms Munge has stepped down and may take on a different role in the County.

 

Mr Gilfrid Powys was killed by an elephant on the 27th on his ranch in Laikipia.  Gilfrid was a major influence on my life and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

 

Staff

Ranger Josephine Mwita lost her father on the 7th after he was involved in a motorcycle accident. 

 

Ranger Justus Lenana lost his mother on the 14th

 

Mr Emmanuel Molai was married to Ms Viona Namaiyan Mpeti on the 15th. 

 

Wildlife

One injured lion was reported on the 2nd.  It was a young male that had been in a fight and was virtually unable to walk as a result of the injuries.  We fed it to give it sufficient strength to await treatment but it then disappeared before it could be treated.  It then reappeared just before Christmas, thin but healthy.

 

One lioness was found dead just on the Tanzanian side of the border near the army drift on the 9th, there was no apparent cause of death, although the neck and face appeared to be swollen.  On the same day Dr Limo removed a snare from a giraffe.

 

Our lions from the Oloololo pride are spending an increasing amount of time on top of the escarpment – leading to a spike in cattle being killed.  Although we pay compensation, the lions are at real risk from poisoning or spearing and this threat is unlikely to diminish much before June 2018.

 

It would appear that one of our rhino has moved out of the Triangle onto Enonkishu – it is a different rhino to Naeku, who went there a few months ago.  It was first reported on the 29th.

 

Tourism

One vehicle driven by local tourists overturned near the four-kilometre junction on the 20th.  The driver was obviously over-speeding and lost control on a straight section of road.  Most of the lodges and camps were full over Christmas and New Year, many with local tourists.

 

Olonana and Batleur camps will close down in January for major refurbishment and won’t reopen for several months.  This will no doubt impact tourist numbers over the next six months.

 

Dogs

Linda Porter and John Lutenberg have delayed their trip to Kenya until January but we have started training the puppies and they are doing well.

 

Security

This is the time of year when poaching is focused on hippo, warthog and, during dark nights, Thompson’s gazelle.  A total of 23 people were arrested for poaching during the month – including one person who were arrested for being in possession of a lion skin and claws.  Table 1, below, gives a summary of the arrests made in 2017 and then shows the total sine the Mara Conservancy started operations in June 2001.

 

Table 1:  Arrests made, and wire snares collected, in 2017

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One rhino and at least one elephant were poached in the northern Serengeti in December or late November – possibly by the same person.  The Tanzanians have identified the prime suspect and hope to apprehend him in the near future.

 

Four people were arrested by the Ngiro-are rangers on the 2nd.  One person was arrested near Nyamburi in the northern Serengeti – he as cutting down trees in the Park and sawing them into planks.  That night some cattle were stolen from Angata, our rangers were alerted at 4.00 am and set up an ambush in case the cattle were driven into the Lemai Wedge – in fact they were taken in the opposite direction and away from the Park.  However, the rangers did spot three poachers enter the Serengeti with spears and dogs and managed to arrest all three.  They were on their way to hunt warthog.

 

The Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person at Binamu, along the Bologonja River, on the 5th.  He and his companion were on their way to hunt warthog and our rangers found them.  The following day our rangers joined forces with a team from the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) after receiving information of trophies in Ngos, a small village on the way to Lolgorien.  They managed to arrest one person with a lion skin and several lion claws.

 

Four people were arrested on the 7th when our teams joined forces to patrol the other side of the Mara River.  Two people, one of them a woman, were arrested after our rangers followed human and donkey tracks.  The two were on their way to collect meat from a poached hippo.  That night two more people were caught near the old Saiyari Camp when they were seen using the hand-held Flir cameras.  They were carrying hippo meat and one of them had been arrested by our rangers in December last year.

 

Our rangers arrested two people on the night of the 11th.   They had entered the Lemai Wedge and were about to hunt Thompson’s gazelle near Miungu when apprehended.

 

The Ngiro-are rangers set an ambush near Ngira, on the South side of the Mara River, on the 16th and saw a group of people moving fast as they hunted.  They followed for hours and finally caught up with them near the Kogatende airstrip.  They managed to arrest four people around midnight.  The four were all young, aged between 15 and 18 and they had killed three impala and one francolin.  Three more people were arrested over the following evenings:  Two people were arrested on the Masanga poachers’ route at 6.00 pm on the 17th – they had dogs and spears.  One more person was arrested at the same time below Kigonga on the 19th – he and his companion were hunting with machetes and dogs.

 

The Iseiya rangers saw eight people carrying hippo meat along Lugga ya Ngiri on the night of the 18th but did not manage to arrest anyone.  The meat was dropped when the poachers saw the rangers.

 

One more person was arrested by the Iseiya rangers on the night of the 21st.  He, and three others were hunting with torches and dogs near Sampura in the Lemai Wedge and had killed an impala.  The following day the Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person near Limana in the Lemai Wedge during the day and then set an ambush that night, they caught two more people from a group of six who were hunting with torches and dogs.

 

Revenue and Accounts

Our revenue dropped below the corresponding month the previous year for the first time in two years (Ksh 25,466,506 compared with Ksh 26,398,503 in 2016).  This is a 4% drop and is probably a reflection on the political uncertainty that prevailed in the Country.  Fortunately, we now have far more political stability and hope that we can begin to attract tourists again.  

 

Months like November, March, April and May are always very difficult for us – expenditure far exceeds revenue and unless we have built up sufficient reserves in high season we end the year just scraping through.  This year looks like it will be no exception, our share of revenue for November was Ksh 10.73 million – our expenditure for the same month was Ksh 18.76 million. 

 

Repairs and maintenance

Epinician have worked on all our radios and we now have a very effective radio system.  We now have a TV screen in the administrator’s office that will enable us to track vehicle and ranger movements.

 

Our Wifi router burnt out and was replaced on the 11th. 

 

We placed six signs along the border to inform people that it is illegal to enter Tanzania without authority.  We have also placed “Do not litter” signs in strategic places.  The worst culprits appear to be school children on organised trips, and residents – who throw out plastic bottles, bread wrappers, milk packets and plastic bags.  There is hardly a day when one does not have to stop to pick up such items.

 

We completed the roofing over the uni-huts at Little Governors and will install guttering and water tanks in the New Year.

 

We moved all the wire snares into the new store.

 

The drift on the way to the Kichwa airstrip was badly eroded and we shored it up with gabions until such time as the drift can be rebuilt.

 

Report on focus for December

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Focus for January 2018

·       Hold Board meeting on the 12th;

·       Fix drift near the Kichwa Airstrip;

·       Put roofing over the uni-huts at Oloololo Gate;

·       Install rainwater tanks at Little Governors and Oloololo;

·       Build barrier and gate house at Kilo 2;  and

·       Survey Reserve boundary.

 

 

November 2017

General

The rains have been somewhat disappointing, with scattered thunderstorms along the escarpment but most areas have experienced less rain than expected.  The rains should continue through December but all the indications are for reduced rain.

 

The Chairman and Chief Executive met Mr Andrew Jackson on the 3rd to discuss his possibly joining the Board.  Both parties agreed to put off making a decision until January.  Mr Jackson has worked at a very high level in KPMG one of the top accounting firms worldwide and would bringe a great deal of expertise to our financial management if he accepts.

 

Mr Eric Becker visited for three days with a journalist and photographer.  He provided us with three new hand-held Flir cameras and set up a system for one of our patrol vehicles to enable the driver to drive at night without lights.  Eric also brought three Flir hand-held cameras for use by the rangers.

 

The Chief Executive took ten days off during the month.

 

President Kenyatta was sworn in as President on the 28th, ending a period of uncertainty and political upheaval.

 

Staff

It was with great shock and sadness that we heard of the death of Aile Lekakwar, our head mechanic.  He complained of severe lower back pain after the vehicle he was travelling in hit a bump at speed and went to Nairobi for a check-up.  The specialists saw a crack on one of his vertebra but did not think it was serious – two days later he was dead.  Lekakwar was the best mechanic I had ever had the privilege to work with and his expertise with large machinery was unmatched.  He will be sorely missed by us and his large family, many of which have followed his career and are excellent mechanics in their own right.

 

Two other members of staff lost family members.  Our commiserations to Cpl D Siele who lost his father and Senior Sgt who lost his mother.

 

The Warden and Administrative officer both went on their annual leave.

 

All our security staff have now been taken on by Narok County and their basic salaries and allowances will be paid from the County, we will now only pay for bonuses and allowances.

 

Wildlife

Dr Limo and his KWS/DSWT team treated an elephant with an arrow embedded in her leg on the 7th.  The arrow had been there for some time and the animal was fairly debilitated.

 

We found Nauku’s transmitter;  it had stopped transmitting at the end of August and fell off in late September.  It suddenly started transmitting on the 7th and Marc Goss from the Mara Elephant Project managed to locate it early on the 8th.  This was an experimental tag and we hope to attach a modified tag sometime in the future.

 

The cheetah with four cubs lost two of her cubs and has since disappeared, possibly into the Lemai Wedge. 

 

Tourism

Visitor numbers dropped considerably during November and we can’t expect any real increase until mid-December. 

 

Construction seems to be continuing on the lodge that was stopped near Olonana, this is despite a court injunction.  We have also noted that a new camp is being built along the escarpment South of Angama.  They appear not to have any permission and we have alerted the County Government.  This proliferation of camps along the Mara River and escarpment is a cause for concern.  None of the camps ever seek approval from the Reserve management and yet they have the expectation that they will be allowed full access for themselves and their clients.

 

Dogs

Two of our dogs had problems this month:  Naeku had a pyometra and about a litre of pus was drained from the uterus and Garvey had tendonitis.  Both were treated in Nairobi.  Naeku is still undergoing treatment in Nairobi.

 

John Lutenberg and Linda Porter was supposed to assist in training our puppies but unfortunately Linda suffered from kidney stones the day before she was due to travel.  They may have to postpone their trip.

 

Security

We arrested 31 people during the month, that majority of them across the Mara River.  We only recovered 40 wire snares but found where two warthog, one hippo, four zebra and three wildebeest had been killed.   There was a report of at least one other hippo being killed.  We saw very little sign of poachers in the Lemai Wedge and the patrols are having to go further and further afield – often as far as Tabora B in the Serengeti.  Our TANAPA counterparts have been very active these past few months and routinely join our patrol teams.  They are now very keen to get their own thermal imaging cameras.

 

Twenty-one wire snares were recovered around Limana on the 30th September and then on the 1st one was person was arrested along the escarpment with three snares.  A further five snares were recovered on the 2nd near Tabora B.

 

On the 3rd one more person was arrested in an area called Mama Kent, in the northern Serengeti.  He was part of a group of three who were hunting with machetes.  The patrols returned to the Tabora B area and recovered another seven snares and saw three pit traps.  Seven further snares were recovered near below Kigonga.

 

One person was arrested Nyamburi, across the Mara River, on the 6th he was hunting with one dog and had two wire snares.  The following day the Ngiro-are rangers managed to arrest seven people in two different operations with our TANAPA counterparts when they patrolled the Bologonja River.  Five people were arrested in the first encounter and then two more people were found and arrested.  A total of eleven snares were collected and two warthog had been killed.

 

Three people were arrested during a night ambush between Ngira and Machechwe in the northern Serengeti.  They were hunting with machetes.  Three more people were arrested on the 12th, two people were arrested between Mlima Hotel and Machechwe by the Iseiya team and then the Ngiro-are rangers arrested one more person was arrested hunting alone near Nyambura.  The following night the Ngiro-are rangers arrested two more people near Machechwe during a night ambush – they were hunting with machetes.

 

Our rangers were informed that a hippo had been poached near Lemai on the night of the 18th.  Both teams responded at 3.00 am but by the time they arrived the poachers had taken all the meat and left.  They did however manage to arrest one person near the Kigonga poachers’ route as he entered the Lemai Wedge with two snares.

 

Our rangers joined their TANAPA counterparts on the 19th and patrolled the upper reaches of the Grumetti river.  They managed to arrest one person, five escaped.  They had killed and butchered four zebra and three wildebeest.

 

The rangers continued with their patrols of the northern Serengeti and managed to arrest six more people on the 23rd and 24th.  The Ngiro-are managed to arrest three people on the 23rd and then the Iseiya team and their counterparts from Kogatende, arrested three more near Tabora B.

 

One person was arrested at Olaro Nyioke when the rangers came across three people blocking tracks used by the patrol teams.  He reported that he had seen people with three donkeys carrying fresh hippo meat.  The previous day three snares had been recovered during a routine patrol.

 

Four more people were arrested on the 29th.  The Iseiya rangers managed to arrest three people found chasing animals near Lempise with machetes.  One of the three was a cripple, with only one leg, and using crutches.  The Ngiro-are rangers also managed to arrest one person near Daraja la Mzee, his companion escaped.  They were probably hunting hippo, as they had heavy spears.

 

Revenue and Accounts

We continue to receive slightly more revenue than for the corresponding period last year.  This year we were up by 11% (Ksh 41,287,628 vs Ksh 37,845,526 last year).  However, this is less than half the collections in July and August.  The projections for November show a significant decline on October.  This is normal but probably exacerbated by the political uncertainty surrounding the Presidential elections.   

 

Repairs and maintenance

The new houses at Iseiya were completed and are now occupied by security staff.

 

The new kitchen and mess area at Kilo 2 are complete.

 

The Road team spent the month patching up roads that have been damaged by the ongoing rains.

 

The Partikilat dam has been completed and the only remaining work is construction of troughs.  The dam has been constructed as a joint venture between the Mara Conservancy and the Angama Trust and will greatly assist the community in providing water for themselves and their livestock.

 

Epinician came down to set up the radio tracking system on all our radios and a monitoring screen in the Administrator’s office, this work should be completed in early December.  We will now be able to monitor our vehicle and hand-set movements.  We will also be looking to integrate this system with SMART.  Epinician also disabled the lights on the handsets so that transmissions can be made at night without alerting poachers.

 

Report on focus for November

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Focus for December 2017

·       Install signs along the border;

·       Start roofing uni-huts;

·       Build a barrier and gate house at Kilo 2;

·       Construct store for wire snares;

·       Complete tracking system;

·       Install six new radios;  and

·       Survey Reserve boundary.

 

 

February 2003

General

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.

 

Tourism

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.

 

Security

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.

 

Staff

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.

 

Development

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;