February, for the most part was dry and hot (the hottest February in 30 years), although we had a few days of exceptionally heavy rain around the 20th.
The elections are due to be held on 4th March and campaign “fever” has gripped the country – essentially stopping work in many sectors. It would appear that the next President will either be Mr Raila Odinga, or Mr Uhuru Kenyatta. The race between the two is currently too close to call; although Mr Kenyatta has been catching up in the polls. It is almost certain that neither candidate will garner the requisite 50% plus one vote and that there will be a run-off in April. A great deal will then depend on which of the losing candidates support the two principles. Mr M Mudvadi, the third candidate in the polls will be in a very strong position to influence the final vote. At the local level: it would appear that Mr S Tunai has the edge in his bid for Governor; and that either Mr Andrew Sunkuli or Mr Stephen ole Ntutu will be elected Senator.
The Chief Executive met with a delegation from the Indonesian President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight headed by Mr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto and his deputy, Mr Heru Prasetyo. The team were particularly interested in involving communities in conservation – in their case forest conservation – and were keen to learn from our experiences in working with communities in the Conservancies surrounding the Mara.
The Officer Commanding the Kilgoris Police Division (OCPD), Mr J Ipara, and his Criminal Investigations Officer (DCIO), Mr Ouko, visited the Triangle on the 13th for a familiarisation visit.
The British High Commissioner held a cocktail evening at his residence on the 18th – to highlight poaching issues. The evening was very well attended by many of the conservation leaders in Kenya, and the British Minister for the Environment. One of the people who attended was Dr Anthony King – former CEO of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum – very sadly he was killed a few days later on Mount Kenya whilst flying a journalist/filmmaker around the mountain.
The Chief Executive met with the new Clerk to the County Council of Trans Mara, Mr Shedd Simotwo, on the 25th. Mr Simotwo has been appointed as the acting Clerk to the new Narok County Assembly, effective after the elections.
A team from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Save the Elephants and the Mara Elephant Project collared two large bull elephant in the Triangle on the 2nd. Heritage, one of the bulls, had been collared before, but the transmitter fell off. The other, even larger, bull was considered to be a prime target for poachers and was given a collar for the first time.
Elephant poaching is getting closer – we found two recent carcasses in the Northern Serengeti, quite close to the Kenya border. One of the elephant was killed on the 25th February and the tusks removed.
Dr D Mijele treated two giraffe on the 4th. A rudimentary spear was removed from the side of the first animal. The second had been snared on the leg – the snare was removed.
We held a meeting with Mr S Mwiti to finalise the new Staff Manual – this has now been sent to the printers.
We celebrated the arrest of another 100 poachers on the 23rd. We were delighted with the attendance of our Tanzanian counterparts.
Mr P Siampei was suspended for two months for conduct unbecoming a senior officer of the Conservancy.
Visitor numbers throughout February have been excellent. However, tourist numbers fall dramatically in March and will not pick up until the onset of the high season. So much hinges on the elections and whether they will be peaceful. No one wants civil unrest, or a repeat of the violence that erupted after the elections in 2007. The acceptance by the losers that they lost in a free and fair elections; and that there was no rigging, will do a great deal to reduce ethnic tensions. Sadly Kenya is still extremely tribal – although much is being done to de-tribalise issues – we have a long way to go.
Mr Daniel Kiptunen completed a road down the escarpment from his camp, Sun Camp, on the escarpment. We confirmed with the Council that this was not authorised and have closed the road again.
Thirteen poachers were arrested in February, bringing the total to 2,041. Three wire snares were recovered.
A combined ranger force from our different stations arrested four people along the Mara River, well inside the Triangle, on the 1st. One person escaped across the river. The group had arrived that morning and had not killed anything. They reported that they had come across another group of six poachers along the river – a later search came across the other camp but the poachers had left – they had killed a hippo and taken the meat.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested five poachers near Mlima Hotel, in the northern Serengeti, on the 6th. They had just arrived from their villages and were cooking lunch when arrested. Our Tanzanian counterparts subsequently informed us that three of poachers were known criminals who were wanted by the police for multiple murders.
We received a report on the 7th that about 140 cattle had been stolen from the wa Kuria in Tanzania the previous evening. The rangers found tracks on the Kenya/Tanzania border and followed them through the Triangle and up the escarpment on one of the cattle trails. Investigations indicated that 130 head of cattle were stolen by about 17 people – six Masai and eleven wa Kuria – it later transpired that four people came from the village where the cattle were stolen. We managed to get the names of all the Masai stock thieves and then left the issue with the Administration and Police. Senior Government officers were extremely supportive and the collaboration between the Tanzanian and Kenyan officers was most impressive. Twenty-one cattle were returned to the owners mid-month. One of the cattle thieves was killed in a subsequent raid on the Kipsigis – he was one oftwo people who wore stolen military uniforms in the first raid.
Four poachers were arrested along the Mara River on the 11th, downstream from Mara Bridge. The four had arrived the night before and had not killed anything, although there was a blood spoor from a wounded hippo that first alerted the rangers.
The Iseiya rangers recovered three wire snares in the Lemai Wedge on the 27th. On the same day they discovered the recently killed elephant near the Kenya/Tanzania border.
Revenue and Accounts
February was a reasonable month, better than expected. However, projections for March, April and May are very poor; certainly the worst since the Post Election Violence in 2008. We should have sufficient reserves to see us through but will need to be very careful with expenditure.
We sprayed Parthenium with Tordon from the 5th until the 7th.
We are installing doors and windows in the office extension and will be plastering the walls in early March.
The road team managed to resurface a number of eroded sections on the roads and we did a light grading on most of our major roads.
We purchased four new tyres for the grader, and fitted two.
We cut the most heavily used grass tracks.
Report on focus for February
Focus for March 2013
· Survey Reserve boundary;
· Repair engine on KAV 098;
· Repair engine and collect Land Rover from CMC;
· Complete office extension;
· Launch new Staff Manual on 11th March; and
· Continue with KAPS evaluation.