Several nights of steady rain have turned the whole Triangle green and filled most of the water courses.
We were visited by Mr Charles Raymond, President of the Citigroup Foundation and Mr Joseph Petro, Managing Director of Citigroup Security Services on the 2nd. The Citigroup foundation has an annual budget of approximately US$ 20,000,000 to spend on worthwhile projects worldwide.
Dr Peter John Massyn arrived from South Africa on the 3rd to assist the Council review their lease agreements. He met with the Chief Executive, Hon G Konchellah, Mr S Tunai and the Clerk over a period of 5 days and prepared a report for the Council.
The Mara Conservancy sponsored a study tour by the Council to the Lewa Conservancy between the 9-11th. 14 councillors visited Lewa and Il Ngwesi Group Ranch and were most impressed by what they saw. On the 13th there was a full Council meeting and there was a unanimous vote by all 24 councillors to grant the Mara Conservancy a 10 year management agreement. This endorsement for the Conservancy transcended local politics and was stronger than we ever hoped for.
The Chief Executive met with two Directors of the Humane Society of the US, Mr John Taft and Mr Peter Bender on the 15th and 16th. They were most interested in the Mara Conservancy but were particularly interested in community conservation education.
M/s Baxendale, Siparo and Saiyanka met with a senior delegation from the Ministry of Environment at Kichwa Tembo camp on the 22nd. The delegation included the PS in Environment, Vice-Chairman and Director of KWS, Chairman NEMA (National Environmental Monitoring Authority), representatives of Pact and Born Free Foundation and Ms P Awori from Abercrombie & Kent. The delegation had spent the previous day driving around Koiyaki and the Narok side of the Masai Mara and had found one dead zebra in a wire snare near Voyager Lodge, they recovered 32 wire snares.
Dr G Karanja submitted a revised Environmental Impact Assessment of proposed campsites. This has been circulated to all Board members.
The Senior Warden attended a series of meetings in the Serengeti and at Keekorok on linkages between Yellowstone and the Serengeti/Mara ecosystem.
There was a lodge manager’s meeting on the 24th at Mpata club. The meeting was well attended, although for the second time in a row no one attended from Mara Serena.
We received an ultimatum from the Mpata landlords to withdraw our revenue collectors from Mpata Club and give all gate fees to the landlords. On the 29th we received a message that Narok would no longer honour Mara Conservancy tickets. I spoke to the Clerk, Narok County Council who said that it was a Council decision to collect all gate revenue for Little Governor’s Camp – citing a letter from a previous Clerk in Trans Mara, Mr J Naiguran. I have sent the Narok Clerk minutes of a meeting that was held between the two Clerks (M/s Naiguran and ole Kaiyoni) and the Chief Executive in which this issue was addressed.
The Chief Executive met with Helen Gibbons, Director of Friends of Conservation (FOC) and Mr Richard Hartley on the 29th. It is likely that FOC will be able to raise funds for the Community Scouts Association in Trans Mara.
One very young elephant calf was treated by Dr Kashmiri on the 17th, it appears that this calf was speared through the foot. The mother had to be darted so that we could catch the calf, the wound was cleaned and dressed and then both mother and calf reunited. The mother and calf left the herd for several days and were to be found alone near the Serena airstrip, the calf is improving daily.
The following day Dr Kashmiri darted a young elephant, 10-14 years old, on the other side of the river, near Governor’s Camp and treated a severe abscess on a leg. This elephant died a day later.
A new male rhino has been seen on one or two occasions near the salt lick, we are not sure whether the original male has crossed back onto the Narok side or if we now have three rhino in the Triangle.
One hippo was found dead in the river below Mara Serena by a routine patrol on the 25th, it’s calf was still beside the carcass, despite about 20 crocodiles beginning to feed off it.
A giraffe was reported with an injured leg on the 28th; a wire snare had cut off circulation to the hoof, which had fallen off. It was determined that the giraffe could never recover and it was shot on the 29th, within hours a large male lion had found it and was feeding.
Two large pythons were seen killing antelope in the past month. In the first instance a python killed a female Thompson’s gazelle, two hyena started feeding on the gazelle while the python was still constricting it and the python then abandoned its kill. In the second instance we saw a very large python just after it had killed a full grown male bushbuck, it was about to start swallowing the bushbuck when we found it.
Little Governor’s Camp reopened on the 14th February, after being closed for a month. Tourist numbers continued to fluctuate throughout the month. On some days the lodges were full, two days later they could be virtually empty. However, overall February was a good month and should be better than February 2003. The longer term prognosis seems to be that, barring any disasters, we will have an excellent high season starting July.
Nine poachers were arrested and one killed during the month. This brings the total number of poachers arrested to 277. 117 wire snares were recovered.
The GSU moved their staff from Oloololo on the 6th – freeing up staff housing for our gate staff. Five policemen were scheduled to be deployed at either Oloololo Gate or Kichwa Tembo to improve security in the absence of the GSU. A GSU officer, SSP ole Tito, was sent down to Narok and Trans Mara to ascertain the security situation in the absence of the GSU and met with the Senior Warden and Chief Executive on the 13th. As a result of this visit a small contingent of GSU have been redeployed at Zakaria, the GSU camp on the Narok side of the Mara River.
On the 9th three waKuria poachers were seen on the Tanzanian border, quite close to Ngiro-are – unfortunately they escaped. A poacher’s camp was found along the border and the remains of one zebra recovered.
On the 13th we received a report from a community scout that three well known Luo poachers were operating in the Nyakwiri forest, between the escarpment and Lolgorien. We immediately mounted a patrol and two of the three were arrested. The third, their leader and an infamous poacher known as Kerenge, was shot dead. Kerenge was known to have a firearm and use it in incidents of banditry along the escarpment, although it was not recovered at the scene. This was the fourth time we had mounted a patrol to apprehend this group. 62 wire snares were recovered. The matter was immediately reported to the Police and the rangers have recorded statements with the Police.
On the 14th a routine patrol along the river discovered a bunch 30 wire snares hidden in the bush downstream from Little Governor’s camp, they had been hidden for some time.
The Ngiro-are patrol team found 11 wire snares at Konyoike, on the Tanzanian side of the border on the 17th, they set an ambush on the snares but no one visited and we pulled out the snares the following morning.
Four wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 19th on a routine patrol downstream from the Salt-lick. The group of five had arrived that night and were possibly on their way to the river to hunt hippo. This group had 14 wire snares and heavy spears. They were also carrying what appeared to be potassium cyanide crystals, which they claimed to put on their spears to kill animals more quickly.
Three wa Kuria poachers were arrested in Tanzania on the 23rd, in a joint operation between rangers from Ngiro-are and Kinyangaga in Tanzania. The three were hunting with eight dogs and had arrived where the Ol-are stream joins the Mara River that morning.
12 new recruits reported on the 1st February, they have established camp at Ngiro-are and are being trained by the Warden Operations, E Nkoitoi, and two NCO’s. We ordered new uniforms and equipment for the new recruits.
The normal six monthly transfers took place at the beginning of the month, on this occasion the wardens were also moved and E Nkoitoi moved from Serena to Ngiro-are, Mr R Saiyank moved to Serena from Oloololo and Mr J Sogirian was re-deployed at Oloololo.
The Chief Executive took two days off in February. He has never taken any annual leave and would like to take one month off from the 15th March.
We have deployed three Alpha scouts at Oloololo Gate. This follows on the success of these scouts at Mara Bridge. They are not rangers and their specific duties are to man the gate during daytime. Rangers will continue to provide security at night.
The road crew repaired sections of the road to Oloololo and placed murram on one of the worst remaining sections.
He road team cut down all the datura strimonium, a poisonous weed growing on disturbed soil along the road verges and drains.
Work on the toilet block at Mara Bridge is almost complete. We have dug an experimental well on the river bank, it appears that we will be able to get clean water from this well for the toilets using a small pump.
The Chief Executive’s tents had rotted in the rain and a tent tailor was brought down to repair these plus staff tents. He is also making new seat covers for all the vehicles.
Revenue and Accounts
Despite the fact the Little Governor’s Camp was closed for half the month, revenue for January was up by 15% on the same period in the past two years. Undoubtedly the Mara Triangle is doing better than elsewhere in the Mara ecosystem and we continue to attract tourists from other destinations in the Mara.
We have a further pledge of € 25,000 from the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). We received a paper on the Terms and conditions for receiving grants which has been duly signed and returned to FZS.
We received US$ 14,521.44 from Alison Jones, through the Lewa Trust. Some of these funds have been used to print new maps of the Mara and these maps are due in the Country in early March. We are most grateful to Alison for her support to the Conservancy.
Report on focus for February
Focus for March
Complete toilet block;
Complete well and install piping;
Receive recruit uniforms and equipment;
Receive new maps of the Mara;
Hold Board meeting on the 12th ;
Collect temporary staff houses from CMC in Nairobi;
Complete work on seat covers and tentage;
Meet with Leslie Roach;