President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the Mara Triangle on the 3rd. He arrived in the morning and left after a late lunch. He was joined by the Governor and Senator from Narok County, Cabinet Secretaries for Tourism and Mines and numerous other senior National and County Government officials. That evening the Governor and Cabinet Secretary for Tourism held a stakeholders’ meeting at Mara Sarova. It was well attended and the Governor raised important issues relating to the proliferation of camps, NEMA’s (the National Environment Monitoring Authority) inability to rein in developers, security and illegal grazing. The following day the Chief Executive spent time with the Governor and Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Ms Phyllis Kandie, and flew over the eastern portion of the Reserve. The construction of new camps and incursions by livestock and people into the main portion of the Reserve shocked everyone.
Mr John Lutenberg arrived with two new dogs, especially trained to locate firearms and ivory. John spent the remainder of the month training handlers and familiarising the dogs with their new surroundings. We believe that these new dogs will greatly enhance our ability to deal with the increase in ivory poaching and the proliferation of firearms in the region. I would like to thank John for all his time and effort in training these dogs and Dr Asuka Takita for agreeing to pay for the dogs and their transportation – from funds she raised on her walk from Nairobi to the Mara.
There were days of scattered thunderstorms and showers in the middle and end of August. This was sufficient to give the area a slight green tinge, but was insufficient for any significant grass growth.
The Chief Executive visited the Sub-County Commissioner in Kilgoris to brief him on the training being done at Ngiro-are.
The wildebeest migration ebbed and flowed throughout the month – there were days when there were hundreds of thousands and, a few days later, nothing; as the wildebeest chased the rainstorms. Approximately 2,000 animals died in crossings near Purungat – the result of crossing in unsuitable places.
One young elephant was found abandoned – it was taken to the elephant orphanage in Nairobi but died three days later.
A cheetah was seen with six very small cubs on the 20th . They were probably less than a week old. She has subsequently been seen hunting, but the cubs are still in their nest.
We have noticed a significant increase in the number of animals injured by members of the local community – a number of elephant, a giraffe and a hippo all had spear, or arrow wounds inflicted by people living near the Mara.
M/s 51o spent a month training rangers at Ngiro-are. We now have 24 well-disciplined and trained rangers in the Mara who will hopefully be able to deal with new threats posed by poachers and bandits armed with firearms.
We will be sending 15 recruits to the Kenya Forestry Service training school at Londiani from the 1st September. Their training will last for three months and this will mean that all our rangers have been trained to the same, basic, level. Three of the trainees are women, the first time that we will be training women as rangers.
The Chief Executive will be taking a month’s leave from the 10th September.
There has been a great deal in the local press about the Mara – much of it negative. Photos of piles of rubbish, cattle in the Reserve, dozens of vehicles at crossings and tour drivers on the main Nairobi – Narok road blockading the road and behaving like the infamous Matatu drivers. We are increasingly getting reports that it is not worth visiting the Mara in high season – the type of clientele we want will no longer put up with the mess and will go elsewhere.
Despite a very poor tourist season between November 2012 and June 2013 we still see new camps and lodges being constructed at an alarming rate – most of these developers only need to lease, or buy, a very small acreage and then they have access to one of the most valuable wildlife areas in the World. These developers just see a business opportunity; they don’t care about wildlife, conservation or the environment. How are we going to reconcile conservation with the Government’s aim for more tourists; or get these speculators – for want of a better word - to either become involved in conservation; or have them pay a premium to cover the cost of protecting wildlife elsewhere? Failure to tackle these issues will be our loss. It is becoming imperative that we create a debate on what we want from the Mara – a place with tens of thousands of tourists and to hell with the environment; or a place where conserving the environment and providing an exceptional wildlife experience, takes precedence.
Thirty-three people were arrested in August – two of them armed with an AK 47 and 17 rounds of ammunition. This brings the total arrests to 2,142 in 12 years. We recovered 1,775 wire snares; rescued 29 wildebeest; found 22 wildebeest dead in snares and the fresh carcasses of 114 wildebeest, five zebra, two impala and a warthog that had been butchered. One young elephant also had its trunk cut off in a snare. It is difficult to estimate the actual mortality but, as a rule of thumb, we find one animal caught in a snare for every ten snares set. We estimate that up to 300 snares are set in the Lemai Wedge on any given night. If they are not found, the snares are reset day after day – we routinely recover over 100 snares in a day. If we extrapolate we can assume that up to 30 animals are being killed every night – 900 per month. By November we will have taken most of the snares out of circulation – we begin seeing snares made of fencing wire, string and plaited plastic, as the supply manufactured (made out of the steel belting from tyres) snares run out. However, by the next season more snares will have been made and the cycle repeats itself.
There was an attempt on our rhino on the night of the 1st. A group of three poachers entered the Triangle armed with an AK47 but turned back after they had bumped into a herd of elephant and found that their gun was malfunctioning. Two nights later we managed to arrest two of the group and recover the gun with 17 rounds of ammunition.
Our rangers, accompanied by the Anne Kent-Taylor scouts, managed to recover 48 snares on the first. Another team from Ngiro-are also recovered 20 snares on the same day. Two wildebeest were rescued.
735 snares collected in the Lemai Wedge between the 5th and 9th – ten wildebeest and two zebra had been killed and butchered; three wildebeest were rescued. The Ngiro-are team ambushed one set of snares on the 7th and managed to arrest two people. One elephant was reported poached in the Lemek Hills, we sent the dogs and the scent took the team straight into a homestead nearby, no arrests were made.
The Ol Kurruk team managed to arrest two people on the 9th at Ngos Nanyuki – a village between Oloololo Gate and Lolgorien. They two had killed two zebra.
A routine patrol on the 10th came across a poacher’s camp at Limana, in the Lemai Wedge. They were then joined by TANAPA and Iseiya rangers. They found a second camp and managed to arrest five people. The dog team was then deployed and managed to find two more people – making the total seven. The poachers had killed 14 wildebeest – some were still in the process of being butchered. 40 wire snares were recovered.
Twenty-nine wire snares were recovered on the 11th, three wildebeest were dead in the snares and the rangers found another two places where animals had been butchered. The following day the Ngiro-are rangers recovered 58 snares; two animals had been killed and butchered. The rangers saw five people climbing the escarpment towards Kigonga in Tanzania carry meat, but they managed to escape.
The Iseiya rangers went across the River on the 12th and saw lots of signs of poaching near Ngira – downstream from Kokatende. They came across a group of poachers, but they managed to escape – minus their meat. Two wildebeest had been killed. That night the rangers set up an ambush with their Tanzanian counterparts and managed to arrest two people from a large group – they had already killed four wildebeest and an impala with machetes. The rangers set an ambush in the same area on the 13th and managed to arrest one more person carrying an eviscerated wildebeest carcass. The Ngiro-are rangers recovered 88 snares near Kasarani and reported that large concentrations of wildebeest had moved into community land, near the Lemai swamp. The rangers rescued 7 wildebeest and found another five dead in the snares.
Fifty-four snares were collected on the 15th, one wildebeest was rescued and the rangers found the butchered remains of a further 12 animals. That evening the Ngiro-are rangers set an ambush – two people walked into the ambush just as it was getting dark and both were arrested – they were on their way to check on their snares. Later on, one more person was arrested as he came down the escarpment.
Sixty snares were recovered on the 16th and one person arrested near Maji ya Bett by the Ngiro-are rangers. Two days later, on the 18th, three people were observed entering the Reserve, probably on a scouting mission. They were arrested. They had been arrested previously for hunting buffalo. Forty-seven wire snares were recovered that day in the Lemai Wedge and then another 52 on the 20th. On the 20th the rangers found a place where at least 30 wildebeest had been slaughtered and butchered near Miungu.
Five snares were recovered around Nyakita Pembe on the 25th. The following day the rangers went across the river to Ngira and managed to arrest two, of four people, with six snares. The rangers set up an ambush and spent most of the night chasing poachers, but were unable to arrest any.
Routine patrols recovered 533 snares around Miungu, Kasarani and Maji ya Bett between the 28th and 31st. Sixteen wildebeest were rescued, 14 were dead in snares and a further 30 - 40 wildebeest, 3 zebra, an impala and a warthog had been butchered. The Ngiro-are team were joined by some scouts from Care for the Wild and ambushed some of the snares they found near Kasarani and arrested eight people at midnight.
Revenue and Accounts
Revenue for July was Ksh 55,528,000 – a 94% increase on June revenue and 13% more than July 2012. We can expect August and September revenue to be good, before tourist numbers begin to drop off from mid-September.
We completed resurfacing about eight kilometres of the main road to Oloololo Gate and completed another two short sections on the road to Ngiro-are and the Mugoro by-pass.
We regarded the road between Oloololo gate and Purungat to eliminate corrugations that were beginning to appear with the extended dry season.
We renovated and repainted the buildings at Ngiro-are;
We replaced most of the wooden signs with new metal signs;
We installed a water tank at Ngiro-are to take some of the overflow from the main tank;
We built a plinth for a new water tank at the Iseiya office;
We completed construction of a kennel for the new dogs at Iseiya.
Report on focus for August
Focus for September 2013
· Repair tow hitch on the New Holland tractor;
· Complete resurfacing of Mugoro by-pass;
· Complete patching of roads to Ngiro-are;
· Complete annual audit;
· Send trainees to Kenya Forestry Service training Institute; and
· Survey Reserve Boundary;