The rains returned mid-month with a week of heavy and sustained storms, the weather then improved again and April ended up being drier than expected for this time of year.
The Chief Executive held a meeting with Dr H Gichohi, Director of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Dr R Malpas and Mr D Henson of the Conservation Development Centre (CDC) and Mr M Koikai, Senior Warden Masai Mara National Reserve on the 2nd April to discuss a joint management plan. It was agreed that we would proceed with a joint 10 year management plan for the whole Masai Mara National Reserve. It was also agreed that AWF would provide up to US$ 80,000 towards the planning process – this is funding kindly pledged by Ms Leslie Roach – and that the County Councils would provide additional funding. Mr Koikai committed Ksh 2.5 million (approximately US$ 36,000) pledged by the Narok County Council towards the process. It was also agreed that:
- CDC would revise the Scope of Work (SoW) and budget to incorporate Narok;
- AWF would receive the revised SoW and forward it to the respective Councils with a covering letter asking for their commitment;
- The Clerks to Narok and Trans Mara County Councils would sign on the SoW as their commitment to the planning process;
- There would be no second stakeholders meeting;
- The Clerk, Senior Warden and one Research officer from Narok would join the Core Planning Team (CPT), as would one person from AWF;
- The next CPT would be held in the second week of May; and
- A Memorandum of Understanding would be developed between the County Councils as part of the planning process.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia visited on the 19th together with a large retinue of followers. Senior police and administration officers from Narok, together with officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service were in the Prime Minister’s entourage.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Balloo Patel of TransWorld on the 20th to discuss the possibility of operating a second balloon from Mara Serena. He explained that conditions at Mara Safari Club had become so difficult that he was considering pulling out from there.
Dr Asuka Takita reported an outbreak of canine distemper in the dogs between the Triangle and Lolgorien and the veterinary department has recorded at least 750 deaths in the past three months. We are most concerned about this disease as it may enter the canine populations in the Reserve and possibly affect the feline population as well – this disease is estimated to have killed 1,000 lions in the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem in the 1990’s. Anne Kent-Taylor has very kindly donated US$ 10,000 to us for Asuka to vaccinate all the dogs in the region, each dog will require two vaccinations a month apart.
India’s Minister of tourism visited the Mara on the 27th, together with the Deputy High Commissioner, and the Chief executive gave them a briefing on the Masai Mara and the Conservancy.
One lion cub was found dead near Mara Bridge on the 5th, the cub was nearly a year old and had been seen on numerous occasions trying to approach a pride that she did not belong to. She kept being chased away. We do not know what happened to her own pride.
Honey’s three cubs continue to thrive; they made most of their own kills in April and only had to be supplemented on six occasions, when they had not made a kill for several days.
One injured male lion was seen near Mara Serena, he had a puncture wound in the stomach and it is unlikely that he will survive.
Mr Charles Gitau attended a seminar on taxation hosted by Deloittes at the beginning of the month.
Mr P Siampei attended a short course on financial management between 16-27th April in Arusha, Tanzania.
We have persuaded most of the staff to open bank accounts and will in future be paying most of our staff salaries through the bank, leaving each staff member with enough cash for their immediate needs.
We will institute a pension scheme for staff from June 1st a team from the Local Authorities Pension Trust visited the Conservancy during the month and discussed pension options. The pension scheme would take a 15% of basic salary contribution from the employer and 12% from the employee. We are looking at alternative pension schemes to see which gives the beast option.
Mr Wilson Naitoi completed his one year course at the Koiyaki Guiding School with a Credit pass. During the course he passed: a first aid course, the Kenya Professional Safari Guide (KPSGA) Bronze level exam and his driving licence. Naitoi is now working with Cheetah 1 and is based at Oloololo Gate.
The Chief Executive spent a week in Zimbabwe between the 9th and 16th.
Serena was unusually full for this time of year, with a number of large groups almost filling the lodge. However, May looks as if it will be very quiet.
Twenty one poachers were arrested during the month, bringing the total to 799. Only three of the poachers were arrested in Tanzania, one group of 16 was found and apprehended very close to the border but on the Kenyan side.
Sixteen poachers were arrested at Ol Donyo Olpaek, less than one kilometre inside the Triangle, on the 5th by a combined Serena and Ngiro-are team. This is the highest number of poachers caught in one operation since we started working in the Triangle, beating our previous record of 13. There were 32 poachers in two groups who had arrived to hunt buffalo that morning, they were in the process of setting up camp and had not yet set any snares. 61 wire snares were recovered, as were all their belongings. We set an ambush that night in the hope of arresting more people but without success. The prisoners were taken to Kilgoris where they were each sentenced to three years and two months. We would like to record our thanks to the District Warden and the Officer in Charge of the Police Division (OCPD), Kilgoris for their support in the prosecution of this case.
Two Luo poachers were arrested by a combined team from the Anne Kent-Taylor and Oloololo Gate teams on the 6th. The poachers were operating upstream along the Mara River, in the vicinity of Mara Buffalo Camp and had killed a warthog, an aardvark and an impala and a number of game birds; they had also caught a number of fish along the river.
Three, of six wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 16th morning by the Ngiro-are team after a late night ambush. The poachers had been hunting Thompson’s gazelle with dogs and were arrested very early in the morning as they returned home. They had killed 22 Thompson’s gazelle, one Grant’s gazelle and a dik dik in a newly burnt area around Miungu in the Lemai Wedge.
Ten wire snares were recovered by the Ngiro-are team on the 26th and another eight snares recovered on the 30th, both sets of snares were found on the burn near Miungu, in Tanzania.
We burnt a small area along the main road to Mara Bridge, it rained the day after the burn and it is already green. The Tanzanians burnt at the same time and large concentrations of animals moved onto the burnt area just across the border.
We repaired the most damaged sections of the roads to Ngiro-are so that the road should remain passable through the current rains.
We cleared an area and started digging foundations for the sergeant’s houses. We collected quotations from tree different suppliers and found that most items were cheapest in Narok.
We installed a new rainwater tank at Mara Bridge to replace one that was leaking, we also put in new guttering to make rainwater collection more efficient.
We offered to assist in repairing the causeway at Kokatende, unfortunately one of the tractors fell off the causeway on the 25th. However, we were able to recover the tractor and trailer with minimal damage to the tractor.
Report on focus for April
Focus for May
· Hold Board meeting on 17th ;
· Complete annual work-plan and circulate to Board;
· Continue grading road to Ngiro-are;
· Repair plumbing at Ngiro-are;
· Host Leslie Roach;
· Resume work on 10 year management plan; and
· Discuss environmental audit with S Avery.