August was dry, with the exception of a few days of rain towards the end of the month. Some of these storms were exceptionally heavy and flooded sections of the road to Ngiro-are that were just beginning to dry out.
Mr D Kiptunen completed the construction of a road into the Triangle, despite explicit instructions from the Council not to do so. After consultation with the Clerk and Chairman of the Council this road was blocked. Mr Kiptunen is one of two developers along the escarpment who appear to be building within the Triangle – all our efforts to have the boundary surveyed, to confirm whether these camps are in the Triangle seem to be thwarted.
We constructed one of our predator-proof cattle enclosures at Oloololo Gate so that we could contain cattle that were grazing illegally along the escarpment – a perennial problem near Oloololo. Two herds of cattle were held and the owners charged Ksh 200 per head. Since then we have had no further problems.
Deloitte completed their annual audit and we hope that the report will be ready for the Board meeting on 14th September.
The Council Chairman visited the Triangle with his family on the 29/30th.
The cheetah with small cubs near Mugoro started moving around with her five cubs, since then; she lost one of her cubs on the 14th and then moved onto the burn, where she and her cubs seem to be thriving.
The migration started in earnest at the beginning of August. Wildebeest numbers in the Triangle still seem low for this time of year, but I am certain that large numbers will move in during September. The river remains very high and there have been a number of crossings near Mara Bridge when hundreds of animals have drowned. It is estimated that about 1,000 animals died in one crossing on the 31st.
Lion sightings have been excellent, with two sets of new cubs being reported. Two of the Siria sub-clans have graduated their warriors to junior elders; easing the pressure to kill lions. However, two other groups will not graduate until December. This means that we can not drop our guard and will retain our observation posts along the escarpment.
Elephant poaching continues to be a problem along the periphery of the Mara region. We heard of five elephant being speared in the Ol Kinyei/Siana area and have just heard of a further ten elephant killed near Uaso Ngiro, fairly close to Narok. This brings the total known elephant deaths in the Mara region to close to 60 for the year – despite the arrest of 40 poachers and dealers by the Mara Elephant Project (MEP), a privately funded initiative to assist the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). We are fortunate that there have been no incidents in the Reserve, but big bulls are being targeted, and these roam over huge areas. It will definitely have a negative impact on the whole population. KWS have started to relocate elephant from near Narok again and these are being moved to the Reserve. MEP have donated two satellite collars in order to track the movement of these relocated animals.
The Chief Executive took three weeks off and went to South Africa and Namibia.
Assistant Warden Shadrack Sabaaya has resigned to become a teacher. Sabaaya was warden in charge of the dog section and will be sorely missed. We wish him luck.
The additional Council rangers have been a great asset and have filled an important gap whilst our other rangers undergo training with the Kenya Forestry Service in Londiani. The training should be complete on the 14th September.
The Reserve was full during August but numbers will drop off in September and bookings for October are looking bad. Hopefully, we will pick up some late bookings.
We have seen a marked improvement in driver/guide behaviour this year. There was one exception, when a driver tried to bribe our rangers to let him off for chasing lions out of a bush. He was banned for six months.
The onset of the migration coincided with a significant increase in poaching and the setting of wire snares. There were no cases in the Triangle, but 36 poachers were arrested and 1,101 snares recovered in the Lemai Wedge and Northern Serengeti. Thirty five wildebeest were rescued from snares and a further seven were found dead. Three additional people were arrested with explosives in the Triangle. The total number of poachers arrested to date is now 1,910.
Our first arrests for the month started on the 7th. The Iseiya team arrested 5 people near Machwechwe, three people escaped but our rangers recovered 31 wire snares. On the same day the Ngiro-are rangers arrested another three poachers and recovered four snares that had been set quite close to Kinyangaga. The second group of poachers confirmed that the now tend to wait until after midnight before the descend the escarpment; knowing that the rangers often leave an ambush is there is no sign. That night the Iseiya team joined forces with rangers from Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and arrested another four people, eleven escaped. A further 34 snares were recovered. The total arrests for the day were 12, with 69 snares recovered.
The following day, the 8th, the same Iseiya operation managed to arrest one more person, two escaped. Seven wire snares were recovered. Three more poachers were arrested on the night of the 9th and one wildebeest was rescued.
On the 11th the Iseiya team arrested two people in a very small thicket near Daraja la Mzee, in the Lemai Wedge. That night the same team arrested three more people with 10 wire snares near Watu Kumi in the Lemai Wedge.
On the 13th our rangers from Ngiro-are arrested three people along the escarpment with explosives. They explained that they were looking for hidden treasure, left by the Germans during the First World War. These rumours of hidden treasure have been circulating for years, leading to the desecration of a number of graves and the damage of anything that looks man-made. The three were taken to the police in Lolgorien.
On the 14th the Iseiya rangers collected 13 snares and arrested two poachers in the Nyamburi area of the Lemai Wedge. The following day the Ngiro-are rangers collected 77 wire snares. That night they set an ambush and arrested two poachers, one escaped. This group were arrested with ten wire snares.
A joint patrol between our ranger teams and the Anne Kent-Taylor/Care for the Wild scouts recovered 57 snares and rescued seven wildebeest. The following four days resulted in the recovery of a further 201 snares and the rescue of three more wildebeest.
One more poacher was arrested by the Ngiro-are rangers at Kokamange, in the Lemai Wedge, on the 22nd. Eleven snares were recovered and one wildebeest had been butchered.
On the 24th another joint patrol, this time with TANAPA, recovered 42 snares, five wildebeest were rescued and one was found dead in a snare. That evening the joint patrol rescued six wildebeest, recovered 59 snares and then arrested four people as they were going to check their snares. Over the next two days 113 snares were recovered, two wildebeest were found dead and another three rescued.
The Iseiya team joined forces with TANAPA rangers on the 28th and patrolled the Machwechwe area of the Northern Serengeti. They arrested four people during the day with 18 snares. That night two more people were arrested in an ambush with nine snares and seven poisoned arrows. That same day a routine patrol by the Ngiro-are team managed to collect 45 snares and rescue three wildebeest – but not before they were fired upon with poisoned arrows by wa Kuria sitting along the escarpment – the rangers collected five arrows.
On the 29th the Ngiro-are rangers jut missed arresting a number of poachers as they returned up the escarpment in the Lemai Wedge. However, they did recover 92 wire snares and rescue three wildebeest. On the 31st a combined patrol around Kasarani in the Lemai Wedge recovered 268 snares, rescued five wildebeest and found at least three more dead in snares.
Revenue and Accounts
There was a marked improvement in gate sales during July, this will continue into August and then we can expect a fairly rapid and significant drop by October.
We hired two tipper trucks to speed up the resurfacing of a section of the main road to Oloololo Gate. Unfortunately the trucks were very old and in poor condition, so we were unable to complete as much as we had hoped. However, we did manage to resurface the worst section on the road between Serena and Oloololo Gate.
The road team also worked on the flooded section on the road to Ngiro-are before the rains returned and stopped work.
The grader completed its work in the Triangle and then worked on the roads to Mara Timbo and Mpata Club.
We started work on housing at Purungat, this should be complete by the end of September. This will give two additional houses for staff.
We took delivery of one new Land Rover and two Suzuki Maruti jeeps, these will be take to the Triangle at the beginning of September.
Report on focus for August
Focus for September 2012
· Hold Board meeting and AGM on 14th;
· Complete housing at Purungat;
· Survey Reserve boundary;
· Continue resurfacing flooded section of road to Ngiro-are;
· Sell one Land Rover and two Suzukis; and
· Complete staff appraisals.