There were several heavy storms over most of the Triangle between the 15th and 22nd, the rains then cleared and there was beautiful, sunny weather over Christmas.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Samson Lenjirr, Warden in charge of the Mara Rhino Programme, on the 1st to discuss collaboration between the Narok and Trans Mara sides of the Reserve.
The Chief Executive met with Ms Jorie Butler-Kent and Helen Gibbons in Nairobi on the third, they discussed possible collaboration between Friends of Conservation (FOC) and the Mara Conservancy. Unfortunately FOC are in no position to fund our community scouts this year but we agreed that FOC may be able to assist the newly constituted Mara Siria Community Conservation Trust and arranged for Helen Gibbons to attend their next meeting scheduled for the 16th.
The Chief Executive met with Mr James Isiche, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Kenya. It was agreed that Mr Isiche should visit the Mara in January 2004. The Chief Executive also met with Mr John Virgoe of the British High Commission on the same day. That same evening there was a meeting with the MP, the Hon Gideon Konchella, Mr W Roberts and Mr S Tunai.
There was a Board meeting held in Nairobi on the 11th. Mr Martin Forster’s resignation from the Board was accepted at this meeting.
The Chief Executive met with the Clerk, Treasurer and Administrator from the County Council on the 14 –15th.
The Mara Siria Conservation Trust held a routine meeting on the 16th, they met with Helen Gibbons and discussed possible collaboration. The Trust deferred the allocation and distribution of funds until the next meeting in January, they currently have Ksh 1,900,000 in their account.
On the 19th a CMC flying school aircraft left the runway at Mara Serena and damaged the nose wheel. The aircraft will be repaired and removed in early January. A Mombasa Air Services aircraft that had left the Kichwa runway several months ago was repaired and flown out on the 30th.
Ms Doreen Nasieku Pussy, the lawyer used to draw up the management agreement between the County Council and Mara Conservancy has appealed against the High Court ruling, No 1148 of 2002 and dated 4th April 2003, rejecting her taxation fee of Ksh 7.8 million. The Chief Executive met with Mr S Musalia Mwenesi on the 19th to discuss this matter.
We received a copy of Dr J Karanja’s Environmental Impact Assessment on our proposed camping developments and will ask him to include slightly more information before circulating the document.
A visitor severely damaged his left eye on the 30th and was evacuated to Nairobi by the Chief Executive in his aircraft. He was immediately taken to an eye specialist and hospitalized, we will not know whether his eye can be saved until the beginning of January.
One leopard was found dead along the Mara River, about one kilometer inside Tanzania on the 10th. It appeared to have been killed in a fight with another leopard.
One young female elephant was reported to be very lame at Little Governor’s on Boxing Day. Dr Kashmiri came up on the 27th and darted the elephant, she had an arrow deeply embedded in her leg. The arrow was removed and the elephant is recovering well.
One cheetah was reported to have given birth, we have not yet seen her cubs. Two young males crossed over from the Narok side and took up residence near Oloololo Gate. The cheetah with three cubs has left her cubs. The three, two males and a female, are still together.
There have been numerous lion sightings, many of the lion seem to have crossed over from the Narok side in search of the remaining wildebeest. One lioness may have given birth near Sankuria, on the road between Mara Serena and Oloololo Gate; the cubs have not yet been seen. Two other lionesses gave birth in December, one has two cubs and the other one three. The seven cubs born near Mara Bridge in August and September have been seen frequently and are doing well.
Wildebeest numbers, although considerably reduced, remain high with concentrations along the Tanzanian border and near Serena. One zebra with a wire snare around its neck was shot near Oloololo Gate on the 17th.
Lodge and camp occupancy rates picked up for the Christmas season after a slow start. Mara Serena reported almost 100% occupancy from about the 20th, many of the guests being Kenya residents.
The resident’s camp sites were all booked over the Christmas/New Year period. There is an increasing demand for good, secure camp sites by residents during the school holidays and we can expect the holiday periods to be heavily booked.
A total of four poachers were arrested during the month, all of them Kipsigis from Angata Barrikoi. This brings the total number of poachers arrested to 267. Approximately 55 wire snares were recovered.
Luo poachers operated in the Triangle at the beginning of the month, it appeared that they were camping on the Narok side of the river and hunting in the riverine forest in the Triangle. A number of animals were killed including a giraffe, buffalo, eland and wildebeest. Signs of poaching were discovered on the 10th, unfortunately the poachers were not caught.
On the night of the 15th four residents of Angata Barrikoi, on the Kenyan side of the border, were arrested for poaching along the escarpment. This group had been poaching along the escarpment for some time but had been very difficult to apprehend. They were arrested in their houses at 5.00 am on the 16th after a tip-off. A small quantity of dried game meat was recovered, as were nine wire snares, set and ready to catch animals. Their method of hunting was to set the snares and then watch from the top of the escarpment, as soon as an animal was caught they would come down the escarpment, kill the animal and recover the meat.
On the 20th and 21st we called in all the community scouts to remind them of their obligation towards the Conservancy in respect of reporting security issues. They were reminded that we presently receive more information from informers that we do from them. It was agreed that in future the Senior Warden would meet them on a monthly basis to evaluate their work.
On the 22nd a joint patrol with the Tanzanians recovered 35 wire snares on the Tanzanian side of the border. A joint ambush was arranged for the same night and although a lot of poacher activity was recorded no poachers were arrested.
On the 29th a routine patrol came across 7 wire snares on the Tanzanian side of the border, near the Ngiro-are swamp. One zebra had been killed in a snare and eaten by hyena.
Fourteen potential recruits were interviewed on the 15th. A further nine were interviewed on the 23rd. The final selection was made on the 24th and 12 will be asked to report on duty at the beginning of January 2004.
We sent most of the civilian staff away for the Christmas break, they are due to report back on duty on Monday 5th January.
Mr Sikawa, took 24 days off and reported back on the 29th.
The Chief Executive took eight days off during the month, four days were taken at the beginning of the month and a further four taken over Christmas.
The gate house at Mara Bridge is now operational; manned by civilian staff during the day and rangers at night.
The Office blocks at Serena were painted inside.
We have completed digging two pit latrines at Mara Bridge and will construct a small toilet block there in January.
All road works have been put on hold until after the rains.
Revenue and Accounts
We have received notification from Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) that they will give the Conservancy a donation of € 20,000 towards the cost of increased security staff. There are indications that FZS will give an additional € 20,000 in January 2004. These donations will now enable us to meet the matching requirement for Mr Paul Tudor-Jones to release an additional $ 65,000, pledged earlier in the year.
Mr Jonathan Scott gave a talk to the Royal Geographical Society in London in November, he has donated the proceeds to the Mara Conservancy. Musiara Limited donated a stay at Governor’s Camp at the same time. The event was coordinated by Friends of Conservation and we are awaiting to hear the final figure raised for the Conservancy. We are most thankful to FZS and our other donors for their support.
Report on focus for December
Focus for January
- Complete toilet block at Mara Bridge;
- Work on staff appraisal form in preparation for appraisals in March;
- Visit by the Chairman and Dr Thouless in early January;
- Work on proposals for professional camp sites;