We had a few days of exceptionally heavy rain in the first half of December. We then had beautiful, sunny days until Christmas – then very heavy rain until the New Year.
Joy Smith, a great supporter of Seiya’s work outside the Reserve, was the main sponsor in an initiative near Amboseli – the “Masai Olympics”. The first “Olympics” was held near Loitokitok on the 22nd and we sent a team of elders, youth and staff to witness them. The trip was sponsored by Walking for Lions. David Rudisha – the World record holder, Athlete of the Year and Gold medallist in the 800 metres at the last Olympics in London - was a guest of Honour at the meeting. David Rudisha is from Trans Mara and a wonderful role model for the youth in this area. Such athletic competitions are being tried as an alternative to lion killing for warriors. Joy provided wonderful prizes and we hope that the elders and youth from the Siria community will adopt such competition before the next graduation in seven to ten years time.
Voter registration ended on the 18th. This paves the way for the elections scheduled for 4th March 2013. The members of Parliament have extended their mandate a further two weeks, until 18th January. After that, all Members of Parliament and Councillors will leave office – to give them time to campaign for the General Elections.
The Council held a Full Council meeting on the 22nd and this was followed up with another meeting on the 28th. These are probably the last meetings to be held by the Council before they disband prior to the coming elections. The Council discussed awarding the Mara Conservancy a new, ten-year management agreement and then elected a Committee and tasked them; together with lawyers representing the Council and Conservancy, to draft a new agreement.
One young male lion was attacked, and subsequently died, by buffalo on the 18th. This was a young male that lived with three females – they had been featured in the Disney film, African Cats.
The cheetah with two cubs was seen in the Triangle on a regular basis.
The heavy rains around Christmas triggered the exodus of most of the zebra that had stayed behind when the wildebeest left. Only a few small groups remained along the river by the end of the month.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) put down a young bull elephant with a very infected left front foot, on the 30th, after they determined that it would not heal. This particular elephant was treated in late September by KWS vet.
Mr Steve Mwiti held a two-day workshop for staff on the Labour Laws of Kenya on 14/15th. It was an extremely interesting and valuable meeting that highlighted a number of areas in which the Conservancy is deficient. It also made very clear to staff that there are indeed laws governing behaviour, absenteeism, time off, work hours and leave.
Mr Mwiti has subsequently met with our Administration staff in Nairobi and is ensuring that we are fully compliant with the Labour Laws.
The Council promoted a number of staff members seconded to the Triangle. There was no uniform policy to the promotions; with some people being promoted and others not. It unsettled the staff and was used by the Senior Warden as a campaign tool – most unfortunate.
A client from Karen Blixen camp was evacuated by the Flying Doctors from the Kichwa Tembo airstrip at 2.00 am on the night of the 1st. She was suffering from an allergic reaction and could possible have died if not evacuated.
No poachers were arrested in December. However, four cattle thieves were apprehended. We placed all our emphasis on protecting our lions from Masai warriors. However, the threat on the lions has now gone – for the time being – as the warriors have all graduated.
Eight cattle were stolen from a homestead near Kawai by wa Kuria on the night of the 1st and driven through the Triangle. The thieves obviously ran out of time and decided to hide the cattle in one of the thickets on the Kenya/Tanzania border. The cattle were recovered the following day and all four thieves accounted for in an operation that involved the Anti-stock Theft Unit, a paramilitary police unit; rangers from the Mara Triangle and Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA); and local Maasai.
The Masai Warriors from the Olorien and Dorobo sub-clans of the Siria Masai were determined to kill a lion before graduation, and the date for graduation kept being delayed – partly to give them time to kill a lion. Finally the graduation date was set for the 26th December and we managed to save any more lions from being killed in the Triangle (one was killed on the 1st April). We now have a few years respite before pressure mounts again to kill lions – we hope that we can use this time to find alternative ways for the warriors to prove their prowess.
The Ngiro-are rangers recovered 50 wire snares near Konyoike, on the Kenya/Tanzania border on the 21st.
Summary of arrests made and wire snares recovered since August 2001
Revenue and Accounts
Visitor numbers dropped by 33% from October: from 10,353 to 6,945. This obviously had a major impact on revenue, which actually dropped by 46% to Ksh 23,188,691 - a reflection on the increased number of citizen visitors. As expected, we have also noted a significant decline in revenue over the same period last year. Last year the revenue was Ksh 33,081,158 in the same period.
All the indications are that we are in for a very tough few months, with visitor numbers significantly down between now and June 2013. We expect to do reasonably well in the Triangle – it has to be the best wildlife destination anywhere – but many camps are projecting around 5% occupancy between March and June; hardly worth staying open.
Sanctuary Olonana Camp fuelled the grader and we worked on the section between Oloololo Gate and North Mara Bridge. They also paid for ten casuals to work on cleaning culverts and drainage ditches on this road. This road is now infinitely better than it was.
The road team worked on the roads between Oloololo and Mara Serena and managed to resurface another section before breaking off for Christmas.
Report on focus for December
Focus for January 2013
· Survey Reserve boundary;
· Hold Board meeting on 18th;
· Repair engine on new Land Rover;
· Review Staff Manual and appropriate Labour Documents;
· Start on extension to offices;
· Conduct annual staff transfer;
· Continue with Tender for Revenue Collection; and
· Work on new Management Agreement with Council.