The month was on the whole dry with one or two isolated showers along the escarpment.
The cheetah reported to have given birth to three cubs near Mlima Mbili in fact had four cubs. However, one cub disappeared in the middle of August. The three remaining cubs are very healthy. This cheetah family are being filmed by the Big Cat Diary; a BBC documentary series which are in the Mara for the third time in six years.
The report on the young female cheetah that had lost an eye seems to have been a false alarm, this family have been seen on several occasions and no one else has reported a cub with a missing eye. Dr Kashmiri came up from Mombasa twice to look for this cheetah and the young male lion with an injured leg but neither were found. There was a subsequent report of a young male giraffe with wire snare on a hind leg, this was treated by a vet from KWS and the snare successfully removed.
The resident rhino went across the river again and has not returned. There were unconfirmed reports of her with a male near Ol Kiombo.
Large numbers of wildebeest and zebra have crossed into the Triangle and have moved all the way to Oloololo. The migration appears to be much better than it was last year, when no wildebeest reached Oloololo.
Three companies were asked to make their presentations on revenue collection as part of the Tender process. One company was unanimously selected by the tender committee and their selection is awaiting ratification by the Board prior to awarding the Tender.
We agreed to assist the County Council in grading some roads in Kilgoris in preparation for a presidential visit on 3rd August. The Council then retained the grader for an additional week to repair other roads.
It would appear that revenue for August will be slightly higher than for the same period last year, There were several days when Mara Serena had to find alternative accommodation because of over booking. A small camp was set up near Serena’s bush conference site but only one group of tourists agreed to stay there.
The prognosis for September is good, with most of the lodges reporting high booking levels through the month.
There were a few incidents of animal harassment, especially of the cheetah with young cubs, one or two drivers had to be warned. The Big Cat Diary film crews seem to have a positive effect at ensuring good behaviour around the cheetah – they have been asked top film and/or report any cases of harassment.
A Code of Conduct was drawn up for guides and drivers and distributed to the camps and lodges, there have been one or two instances where drivers and guides have been warned and this has already led to a considerable improvement in behaviour by most drivers, especially at the crossing points and around predators.
A total of 17 arrests were made during the month, all 17 were wa Kuria poachers from Tanzania. This brings the total arrests since June 2001 to 101. In addition approximately 110 wire snares were recovered. There were only three known incursions into the Triangle, in the first instance poachers moved into the salt lick area but were discovered on the day they arrived, unfortunately no arrests were made but we recovered all their belongings. In the second instance one poacher from a group of six was arrested and in the third three poachers set up camp very close to the Ngiro-are outpost on the 29th. We received information and arrested one person and recovered 7 snares the morning after they arrived.
On the 3rd August tracks of six people were seen crossing the River, they were followed along Sand River and three people arrested within 1 kilometre of the Mara River. They had killed about 10 wildebeest and were drying the meat. Most of the meat, in excess of 400 kg was burnt on site. 10 snares were recovered.
On the 9th all six wa Kuria poachers in a group were arrested in a joint patrol with our Tanzanian counterparts on the Tanzanian side of the border below Kokatende. The six poachers had arrived in the area the day they were arrested and had not started hunting; over 40 snares were recovered from the group.
On the night of the 11th one other poacher was arrested near Nyanguki, again in a joint patrol with the Tanzanians. There were four poachers in the group and again they were arrested the night they arrived, seven snares were recovered.
On the 14th a joint patrol between the rangers from Serena and Ngiro-are came across a number of snares below Ngiro-are. There was one point of interest; one wildebeest had been snared, was still alive, but had a blanket over it’s head – presumably to keep it from struggling until the poachers arrived the next evening to kill it. An ambush was set that night and one person, out of a group of six, arrested at 7.00 pm as they came to check on their snares. 18 wire snares recovered.
On the 19th a night patrol managed to arrest one person on a major pathway into the Lemai Wedge at Daraja Mbili. There were two groups of poachers, one of four and then another two using the same trail independently. 7 snares were recovered.
On the 23rd two more poachers were arrested at Mlima Konyoike, right on the border and about 5 kms South East of Ngiro-are on the day they arrived, seven snares were recovered. A day later 18 wire snares were found in the same area and it was agreed to leave the snares and set an ambush that night, unfortunately the poachers obviously watched our staff and removed the snares before the ambush.
On the 27th at least 12 wildebeest were killed in snares at Mlima Konyoike, in Tanzania. It was discovered the morning after but the poachers had taken the meat back into their villages that night, two wildebeest were found dead in snares – with no meat taken. It could only be assumed that the poachers had more than they could carry. Five snares were recovered.
The following night two poachers were arrested near Masanja – on the Tanzanian side of the border. The two had arrived the day before and had killed two wildebeest and were drying the meat. Seven wire snares were recovered.
The Officer in Charge of curriculum development in the GSU Training School visited on the 6th to review facilities and site a firing range and drill square. A range has bee sited and work started during the month. We are still awaiting approval from the Provincial Police Officer for re—arming the rangers and the provision of restricted items required for the training before this can proceed.
A fourth community scout has been recruited, trained and equipped with a radio and solar panel.
Mr Patrick Siparo is working with the Senior Warden to develop a Code of Conduct for security staff. Mr Siparo will also work with the County Council to agree on Terms of Secondment for the staff and get approval for our Staff Manual.
Mr Jaswinder Soin has virtually completed last year’s balance sheet and we should have a copy for circulation by the middle of September.
Mr Kayhan Ostovar has been asked to assist the Conservancy with developing funding proposals and fundraising for the Mara Conservancy. Kayhan is particularly interested in environmental management and will also assist is developing and environmental management plan for the Triangle.
We have received the new council rates for staff, in most cases we will need to increase salaries in order to reach the new levels. The new rates are retroactive until 1st January 2002 and payment of these arrears may cost the Conservancy in excess of Ksh 1 million.
The Chief Executive managed to take six days off in August.
Narok County Council have written requesting a joint project in repairing the road between Mara Bridge and Keekorok, we are awaiting a letter from Serena Hotels and Lodges confirming that they will pay all expenses on the grader.
The Temporary office is virtually complete at Mara Bridge, the water catchment pit has been covered and the pit filled with the first small storm of rain to fall in the area during August. All the uniports at Mara Bridge have been thatched and we are about to do the same at Little Governor’s Camp.
We retrieved the uniports from Ol Kurruk and took them to Ngiro-are where they are yet to be assembled.
We built two natural stone tables under a very popular picnic tree near Mara Bridge, we will construct a further two under other popular trees.
The rifle range at Ngiro-are is virtually complete; it requires a further two days work.
We repainted all the junior staff houses at Serena.
We purchased two toilet tents for the public camp sites, they will be installed at the beginning of September.
Revenue and Accounts
Revenue for July was higher than budgeted, it is expected that revenue for August and September will also exceed projected amounts. However, vehicle repayments and salary increases will put a major strain on our cash flow and ability to develop.
It should be noted that we have still received no balloon income from Musiara since February and from TransWorld since March.
Report on focus for August
Focus for September
- Start work on road to Keekorok
- Implement new salary scales
- Install toilet tents at public camp-sites
- Set date for Bronze level KPSGA examination in the Mara
- Complete Tourism Development Management Plan
- Finalise work at Mara Bridge and at Little Governor’s
- Complete 2001/2 accounts and documentation for Auditors
- Collect comments from Directors on documents sent for their approval prior to setting date for Board meeting
- Follow-up Narok tickets with Clerk to Narok County Council
- Review management agreement with Clerk, County Council of Trans Mara