We had two weeks of rain from the 14th, this was in the form of heavy evening showers and isolated thunderstorms. It was good for the burnt areas and also gave a green tinge to the un-burnt areas but made the roads and tracks difficult for two wheel drive vehicles.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Bill Winter and his clients, the Hearst family from the USA for lunch on the 6th. They had requested a talk on the Masai Mara in general and the Mara Conservancy in particular.
The Chief Executive met up with Mr B Oguya and Mr T Oloo, naturalists with the Serena chain and discussed possible walking in the Triangle, the relocation of a road in front of Mara Serena and security issues. We checked on a possible re-alignment of the road and it seems feasable.
Dr Richard Estes is spending the season at Governor’s Camp and gives talks at Little Governor’s. We went to one of his talks on the 12th.
Ms Alison Jones visited the Triangle from the 17-19th she has very kindly agreed to fund one member of staff as a student through the Koiyaki Guiding School next year.
The Chief executive met with the Managing Director of Conservation Corporation, Kenya (CCA) on possible sites for camps in the Tsavo and coastal region on the 26th. That evening he also met with M/s Wazir and Amin Merali to discuss their proposal to build a tented camp in the Mara.
We held a security meeting with the Officer Commanding Kilgoris Police Division (OCPD), his investigations officer, the Kenya Wildlife Service and managers from Mpata and Serena lodges on the 27th to discuss a recent security incident and ways to ensure that there is no repetition.
Dr Chris Thouless resigned as a Board member on the 15th August, he has opted to remain as a member of the Mara Conservancy.
The Chief Executive held a meeting with the Chairman, County Council of Trans Mara on the 29th to discuss issues of mutual interest.
One male elephant was found dead on the 6th near Ol Donyo Olpaek on the Tanzanian border, it appeared to have died of natural causes. The tusk (it only had one tusk) was removed on the 7th. One other elephant skeleton was found on the Narok side of the river.
The migration was in full swing within the first week of August, with several wildebeest herds crossing into the Triangle every day for the first three weeks in August. The continuous rain somewhat disrupted the migration and there were no crossings for the last ten days in August. The rains led to the Mara River being higher than normal for this time of year and hundreds of wildebeest died in the crossings, so many that they overwhelmed the crocodiles and vultures. One herd lost over 150 animals when crossing the Ol Are swamp in the middle of the Triangle.
The large pride of lions was seen on most days, as were several other lions. Cheetah continue to be very elusive and most remain in the northern Serengeti.
We reviewed staff transfers on the 12th and they were affected on the 14th and 15th.
The Senior Warden attended a number of meetings in Nakuru, Maralal and Nairobi during the month. The meetings in Nakuru involved the Masai Mara Management Committee and whether to continue with the committee or work with the new Masai Mara Management Association. The Narok council is very opposed to the new Association and the indications are that they will prevail and that the Association will be wound up. The Maralal meeting was an Inter-Council Forum meeting involving all the Councils in Rift Valley.
The Chief Executive took four days off during the month.
On the whole we have seen a marked improvement in driver behaviour but we have had a number of incidents between Cheetah 1, the monitoring vehicle and tour drivers. In one instance the driver involved his clients in an argument and the Chief Executive was called in to intervene. Mr George Orr of Earthview Management assisted us with anti-harassment duties for which we were very grateful.
The number of visitors from the Narok side of the river is becoming unmanageable, we are getting over 100 vehicles per day, most of them coming over to watch the crossings - as the Narok side of the river near Mara Bridge is inaccessible to mini-vans. The majority of these visitors use our toilets at Mara Bridge, as the facilities on the other side of the river are unusable.
The camp sites have been full in August, and will remain so for the next six weeks to two months.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in August
The migration, and tourist high season, triggered off a spate of poaching and insecurity. During the month our staff were involved in recovering stolen cattle, arresting armed bandits who held up two tourist vehicles out of the reserve and dealing with a major resurgence in poaching. In all we were responsible for recovering five cattle, apprehending three members of an armed gang of robbers and arresting 11 poachers. The number of poachers arrested now stands at 430. We removed 187 wire snares in three weeks, more than the total since the beginning of the year. We also lost more animals (1 impala, 3 zebra, 37 wildebeest, 1 buffalo and 2 eland were known to have been killed in and around the Triangle) this month than for the whole of last year.
A routine patrol from Serena recovered 21 wire snares on the 4th inside Tanzania. The patrol saw the five poachers on the other side of the Mara River, but they managed to escape. Out patrol found one impala carcass in camp and burnt it, together with all the other items.
The Tanzanians reported six poachers on the Mara River near Kokatende on the 5th, we joined forces with them but the poachers managed to escape. They had been butchering 10 wildebeest that had drowned when crossing the river.
A routine patrol recovered 15 wire snares near Konyoiki in Tanzania on the 8th and a further five snares on the 9th one zebra was wound dead in the second set of snares.
Four wire snares were recovered in Tanzania by a routine patrol on the 13th.
Five cattle were stolen from one of our community scouts at Kawai on the night of the 15th. The theft was not discovered until morning and we were not informed until after 9.00 am. The tracks were followed through the Triangle and into Tanzania by our rangers. The cattle were recovered mid-afternoon but unfortunately the thieves escaped; one of them was later arrested by villagers in Tanzania. He was taken to court on the 22nd.
Five poachers were seen on the Narok side of the river on the 17th by Mr Alan Dixson who had been camping opposite the Talek junction. We immediately mounted a patrol but never caught up with the poachers. During the patrol one elephant skeleton was found and two tusks recovered, weighing about 5 kg each. The following day we sent patrols from Serena and Ngiro-are to the same area on the Narok side of the river and managed to apprehend three of seven poachers. The poachers had 34 wire snares and had killed two eland and two wildebeest the previous night.
A routine patrol found a freshly killed zebra at Nyumba Nane, on the ridges between Mara Serena and Mara Bridge on the 19th. The patrol was unable to locate the poacher’s camp so we mounted a major operation, involving four vehicles, the following day. We located and arrested five wa Kuria poachers and found that they had killed two zebra, two wildebeest and a buffalo. Six poachers had been in the camp for four days and they had called in four more people to assist in carrying the meat - they had arrived the previous night. The group had 20 wire snares, spears and poisoned arrows.
A routine patrol from Ngiro-are found ten wire snares near the Ngiro-are swamp on the 20th, an ambush was laid but no one returned.
There was an armed hold-up on two vehicles on the evening of the 22nd. The tourists from Mpata Club and Kichwa Tembo were held up at 6.30 pm on the road up the escarpment between Kichwa and Mpata and lost their cameras, watches, clothing and binoculars. Drinks, bags and passenger blankets were also stolen from the Kichwa vehicle. The following morning we managed to borrow a trained bloodhound from Mugie Ranch in Laikipia and bring it in to follow the bandits. We found most of the cameras, binoculars, blankets and clothing and the dog followed the scent straight into a Masai homestead. There was no one in the homestead and when we found the owner he gave us information that led to the arrest of one suspect, a well known criminal called Oseko. Oseko had only been out of jail for two months. The following day his accomplice was arrested and both of them were positively identified in a line up, by a driver and a one of the tourists. A third parson was also arrested a day later.
On the same day, the 23rd, the Ngiro-are team found 14 wire snares along the swamp below Ngiro-are. There were three wildebeest in the snares, two of which were still alive, though one of them had a broken leg. We set ambushes and one person was arrested with four wire snares at 4.00 am.
On the 24th a routine patrol by Ngiro-are and the Tanzanians found 12 wire snares in three locations around the Ngiro-are swamp on both sides of the Kenya border. Five wildebeest had been caught, two of which had been butchered, two were dead in snares and one was saved. Ambushes were laid but no one was arrested. The following day a patrol in the same area recovered 38 wire snares; 10 of which had caught animals. We managed to save two animals but the other eight were already dead. On the 28th a routine patrol found 4 wire snares and found one dead wildebeest in a snare.
On the 29th we conducted a sweep for vagrants at the Mara Serena compound and removed 15 people who had no right to be in the Reserve. A patrol done with the Anne Kent-Taylor scouts recovered 15 wire snares in the same area along the border, they found 10 wildebeest in snarea, eight of which had died, the other two were saved. On the same day we set up a four man observation point on one of the vantage points in the area. They were given provisions for four days.
Two poachers were arrested on the night of the 30th,one by the OP team set up the previous day and one by the Ngiro-are team.
We burnt a small block between Mara Serena and Oloololo gate for the ILRI researchers on the 12th, this now gives them a comparison between fires in 2003, 2004 (both early and late burns) and this fire in 2005, all in the same area.
We removed the old uniport store at the office and set it up in the main camp to ease congestion in housing. We are still very short on housing in the Serena compound, with most people sharing rooms.
We replaced all broken windows and started on other housing repairs. We put up road signs on the major junctions but have been hampered by continuous rains and minor breakdowns in the tractor.
A bearing in the grader transmission burnt out while re-aligning a road in front of Mara Serena. This may put the grader out of action for weeks.
Revenue and Accounts
The accountant has completed the accounts for 2004/5 in preparation for the annual audit to commence in September. Our final figures for the year show total income of Ksh 54,731,575.96 and expenditure of Ksh 47,451,598.46; giving us a net income of Ksh 7,279,977.50. The indications are that revenue will match or possibly exceed 2004/5 revenue. Our main concern is that fuel prices will trigger inflation, we are already experiencing 20% higher fuel bills than expected, and this is expected to be reflected in all other commodities.
Report on focus for August
Focus for September
· Hold Board meeting on 2nd Sept;
· Hold 2004/5 audit;
· Repair grader and complete work programme on roads;
· Continue with housing repairs and maintenance;
· Modify laundry to staff canteen; and
· Complete tender process for Earthview Audit