The month was interspersed with heavy rainfall, followed by a series of dry days, overall not as wet as January.
A follow-up meeting was held on the 18th February between the Conservancy and County Council of Trans Mara, the main issue on the agenda was the draft Memorandum of Understanding presented at the previous meeting. A final meeting on this issue was set for 7-8th March but has been re-scheduled to early April.
The Chief Executive submitted a proposal, prepared by Dr C Thouless, to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for emergency funding under the African Elephant Conservation Fund. He also visited the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, briefed him on progress within the Conservancy and received a letter of support for the emergency funding. This will be forwarded to the Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Chief Executive also attended a meeting hosted by the EA Wildlife Society, at which Dr R Leakey and Mr H Wackman briefed interested parties on their proposed conservation endowment fund. Both gentlemen are very interested in progress by the Mara Conservancy and are looking to fund the Conservancy and similar schemes once their fund is operational, not earlier than 2003.
The Chief Executive met with the Clerk to Samburu County Council, Samburu County Council are very interested in the concept of private management of their game reserve and follow-up discussions will probably be held in the near future.
A visit by over 80 councillors from Baringo District is scheduled for early March, there is hope that the Conservancy will be able to provide support to some of the protected areas in Baringo, including Lakes Baringo, Bogoria and Kamnorok.
Ms Jorie Butler Kent has pledged US$ 9,200 towards salaries for 10 community scouts along the Oloololo escarpment – we hope to recruit these scouts during the course of March and April.
Mr David Watson visited the Conservancy, he is a mapping expert and has agreed to produce a series of maps for us of the Mara Triangle.
The Chief Executive and Chairman held discussions with Ms Anne Kent Taylor on possible support for the community scouts initiative.
February was a mixed month, there were a few days when the lodges and camps were full and others when they were virtually empty. Overall, there should be some increase in revenue over December and January.
For those tourists that did visit, they were able to see very good concentrations of wildlife, with large numbers of lions and cheetah. We know of 12 cheetah that have been seen on a regular basis throughout the month, one mother lost both her cubs – she was a young female, probably a first time mother who lost a number of her kills to hyena.
Peter Behr spent one week, developing a potential campsite, talking to lodge management and drivers and closing off some tracks that we do not want used. There has been a request from Mara Serena for a nature walk down to the river. Peter spent some time checking out a potential walk and possible sundowner spot.
On the 6th February one hippo was found poached along the river between Mara Serena and the Mara Bridge, the poachers’ tracks appeared to have crossed the river. A sweep along the river in the two days following showed no camps on our side. On the 8th February the tracks of two people were seen crossing the bridge, going towards Narok, the Narok wardens were informed and our staff followed – they found 14 snares laid along the Sand River, where it joins the Mara River. The following day a joint patrol with the Narok rangers yielded signs of poaching but no arrests were made.
A week later a routine patrol along the river came across seven Luo poachers in the thickets near Olpunyatta. An ambush was laid at their camp by a mixed team of rangers and GSU; two poachers were reported killed by the GSU and one wounded when the ambush was sprung at 8.30 on a very rainy night. There were reports that the Luos were accompanied by a Maasai from Lolgorien, two attempts have been made to find the Maasai – without success.
On the 25th two poachers were seen at Sankuria, under Ol Kurruk Lodge. They had killed one waterbuck and one warthog. One of the poachers was wounded in the thigh and arrested.
Most of the poaching signs have been seen on the Tanzanian side of the border and the Tanzanians arrested 10 in one day in a thicket, known as Nyanguki, about two kilometres from our boundary.
The Chief Executive met with the OCPD (Officer Commanding Police Division) to discuss the status of Police Reservists and other security issues.
Two of our senior security staff Samuel Kortom, Assistant Warden in charge of Security and Sgt Joseph Kimojino were taken to the Lewa Conservancy to see their security operation for two days. The learned a great deal and have come back determined to improve our patrols and Observation Points.
The officers received their new officer’s uniforms and an order has been placed for 20 sleeping bags and 20 ponchos, purchased with a donation from Ker and Downey for Ksh 194,000.
David Nkedianye spent most of the month doing a consultancy, he returned for a few days before completing his contract. There are no immediate plans to replace him with another community officer.
There are plans to re-assign some of the security personnel. The visit to Lewa highlighted the need to have a dedicated security field unit and we are considering assigning up to fifteen of the best rangers as an operational unit, some of these people will be taken to Lewa to see how they conduct their fieldwork.
The rains in January and February have delayed road works but we have started on the road to Ngiro-are and have completed about ten kilometres. The main roads were all re-graded at the beginning of February.
The shingles on the roof at Oloololo gate roof have been re-oiled with a mixture of creosote and used engine oil. Carpentary and masonary work at Oloololo gate has been completed and the artisans will move to Ngiro-are.
Revenue and Accounts
Musiara Ltd has not paid their balloon revenue for December, amounting to approximately Ksh 506,000 – we expect this in early March.
There are no firm projections for March although we do expect resident vehicle revenue for 2002 to be paid. All the camps and lodges have received invoices for their resident vehicles and vehicle stickers have been printed. There are an estimated 50 resident vehicles, we are requesting Ksh 25,000 each for tourist vehicles and Ksh 20,000 each for administrative vehicles.
Area of focus for March
- We expect the rains to begin in March, this will curtail our road rehabilitation but we hope to complete the road to Ngiro-are and possibly some of the roads around Mara Serena.
- We will complete renovation on the buildings at Ngiro-are.
- We hope to send eight security personnel to the Lewa Conservancy for a week’s training on patrol, ambush and OP work. In the meantime we will institute some of the patrol procedures seen in February’s visit to Lewa.
- We will continue to follow-up a training course with the GSU for our security personnel.
- We hope to bring in tour guides from some of the larger exclusive safari operators to look at potential campsites. We will host Leslie Roach for two days in one of these sites.
- We will also host the MP’s and Councillors from Baringo.
- We will follow-up on a possible mate for the one rhino in the Triangle, this animal continues to befriend male eland and buffalo and there were reports it the end of February that the animal had befriended a young buffalo calf.