The rain stopped on the 3rd; then there were a few light showers and isolated storms from the 18th until the end of the month. The whole Triangle turned green and grass started growing. The Triangle looks at its very best – short, green grass and large numbers of animals, particularly lions, elephant and zebra.
The Senior Warden, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), based in Narok County picked up on a rumour that the Chief Executive would be taking over the management of the main portion of the Reserve and wrote as much to his superior on the 10th February. The letter was leaked to our opponents in Narok who posted it on social media – it caused a major embarrassment to the County Government and, at one stage there were threats to demonstrate against me at Sekenani. The Warden has been transferred.
There has now been sufficient rain for us to close the grazing that we allowed along the escarpment. This we will do in the coming week. The elders and community neighbouring us should be commended for being so disciplined and adhering strictly to the conditions imposed on them. I congratulate them. It goes to show that with good relations and mutual respect one can make such concessions to help people and they will not be abused.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Moses Chelanga on the 14th to push for a new draft Management Agreement. We are looking at two options and think that we may have found a way forward and have agreed to have a draft for presentation at the next Board meeting, scheduled for 17th March 2017.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Graham Wallington on the 15th. He is proposing that they do a live broadcast for a National Geographic programme “Earthlive” on the night of 11/12th August. They will then do two-hour live broadcasts daily for “Safarilive” for the migration and probably much longer – they are talking of establishing a camp for at least five years in the Mara. They are requesting that they set up at least 12 remotely controlled cameras at the crossing points – so that they can get live footage from a unique angle. The programmes that they air can have a following of a million people – hopefully some of them will end up wanting to visit the Triangle.
Five senior members of staff did further training on Management on the 14th and 15th . This should greatly enhance their management skills and goes some way to developing a team that will be able to do most management tasks in the near future.
The World Wildlife Fund has agreed to pay for three of our rangers to be trained at the KWS training school, Manyani. We will add an additional nine people in the training, mainly drivers and dog handlers who have not undergone any paramilitary training.
The Ngiro-are rangers found one dead elephant on the 5th right on the Kenya/Tanzania border between Maji ya Bett and Maji ya Suya. It had been dead for a month but the tusks were intact.
There was an eight-hour stand off between three lionesses and a leopard on the 20th in a croton thicket near the four kilometre sign. The leopard had stashed an impala in a tree and went to relax in the thicket when the lionesses confronted him. At times they were no more that a meter or two apart.
Two hippo were found dead at the hippo pools. It appeared that lions had attacked one and there were no visible signs on the second.
Large numbers of zebra started crossing the river in the last four days of the month, heading North and East. We can expect that most of the zebra will have left within the first week of March.
The Hyena researchers found a white-backed vulture with a broken wing on the evening of the 27th. They rescued it and arranged for it to be flown to the Raptor Rescue Centre in Naivasha. It was collected by Pat and Sara Neylan on the 28th and taken to Naivasha. There is a good chance that it will recover, and hopefully be returned to the Mara. Pat and Sara were very badly injured in the armed robbery in River Camp several years ago and it the first time they have returned since their horrendous ordeal and evacuation at 2.00 am on the night of the incident. Vultures are becoming critically endangered and are all in serious decline at the rate of 5-6% per annum – mainly as a result of poisoning – three were recently found dead near Talek from suspected poisoning and there is a report of hundreds being killed in the Serengeti, decapitated and used for traditional medicine.
Tourism numbers fluctuated throughout the month – some days were very busy and others quiet. We can now expect the start of the low season and will watch to see what happens in June, when high season begins to pick up.
We received papers from Martin Reinhardt Nielsen on the bushmeat trade in Kilombero, Tanzania. Their papers look at the whole chain from hunter to the trader and then the retailer and conclude that bushmeat hunting in Kilombero is a commercial exercise – mainly to supplement income. They go on to try and calculate the number of days a person hunts, the returns from hunting and the risk of apprehension. There are bound to be parallels with the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem and it would be very interesting to do a similar exercise in the Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara. We have started talking to Dr Nielsen on analysing the data we have complied over 15 years on the type, scale and geographical extent of the poaching in the areas we cover. In retrospect, it is unfortunate that we did not mark all our patrols with GPS’s but should still get enough information on areas covered, poaching hot spots and the way the poachers have had to adapt to the pressure placed on them by our teams.
Twenty-four people were arrested during the month; 21 of them for poaching and one armed robber. A total of 81 wire snares were recovered. We found a total of 14 animals that had been killed or butchered, they included: two buffalo, two giraffe, two waterbuck, three zebra, four warthog and a hippo.
The first arrest of the month was made at Korongo la Mchanga, between Kogatende and Machechwe, in the Northern Serengeti on the 2nd. A group of four people had hunted and killed one buffalo with dogs, one was arrested and three escaped. The same day the Ngiro-are rangers recovered five snares in the Lemai Wedge and then that night they set up an ambush using the Flir camera – they caught one person carrying six snares. The next day the same team recovered another six snares and then another 13 the day after – they also found where two giraffe had been snares and butchered near Maji ya Bett.
The rangers set an ambush at Lugga ya Ngiri in the Northern Serengeti on the 5th and managed to see one person with the Flir camera. He was arrested with one snare.
The Iseiya rangers arrested four, of seven, people on the 7th near Maji Machafu in the Northern Serengeti. They had killed two waterbuck with the use of dogs and had ten dogs with them. The same day the Ngiro-are rangers recovered two snares, both with dead zebra in them near Maji ya Bett.
The Iseiya rangers returned to Maji Machafu and arrested one more person on the 8th, he was part of a group who had killed a buffalo and one warthog with dogs.
The Ngiro-are rangers joined forces with rangers from Kinyangaga and patrolled around Kichwa Tembo in the Northern Serengeti on the 9th and managed to arrest three people who had just arrived that morning with snares. The Oloololo rangers and Anne Kent-Taylor scouts recovered four snares around Maji ya Bett.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person on the 11th near Lempise, he was carrying three snares and was accompanied by 2 dogs. That morning three people had eluded arrest near the Ngiro-are swamp. The dogs were put on the trail but they backtracked and the rangers found five freshly set snares. Twelve snares were recovered between the Ngiro-are swamp and Maji ya Bett on the 13th .
Three more people were arrested on the 16th near Ngira in the Northern Serengeti by a combined Iseiya/Ngiro-are team. One of the three had been arrested in November 2016. The poachers had set 13 wire snares on the opposite, Lemai Wedge, side of the river. Whilst on patrol our rangers had found a freshly butchered hippo near the Kogatende airstrip – the meat had been taken.
Five more people were arrested the following day: two by the Iseiya team, two by the Ngiro-are rangers and one by the Ol Kurruk rangers. In the first incident the Iseiya rangers joined up with their TANAPA counterparts from Kogatende and found the two poachers hunting impala with six dogs in an area they call Nyamburi. The Ngiro-are rangers arrested two people at Nzonzo in the Northern Serengeti – they had killed a zebra and would have left that night – they had six wire snares. The Ol Kurruk rangers responded to a reported theft at Pusangi and managed to arrest one person and recover Ksh 150,000 that had been stolen. The money was hidden in a beehive.
A total of ten snares were recovered on the 21st. Three people were seen near Nyamburi but all three managed to escape. Two people were arrested on the 23rd near Limana in the Lemai Wedge at night. They were part of a gang of six that had been hunting warthog and had killed three. The poachers showed us where they had been camping – under a fallen acacia tree. They explained that they hunt on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and that they come into the Park at 5.00 am – hunt until around 10.00 and the again late evening. They do this because they think that most of the patrols take place during the day.
The rangers saw one dog and then another three dogs during their patrol on the 27th but were unable to locate their owners. At this time of years the poachers use dogs to hunt waryhog and Thompson’s gazelle. That evening the Ngiro-are team left on a late patrol and managed to arrest two people at Lugga ya Ngiri, in the Lemai Wedge as they entered the Serengeti to hunt.
Revenue and Accounts
We had a slow start to January but things picked up later in the month and we ended January with 3,124 non-resident visitors, up from 2,243 in January 2016 and 1,555 in the same month in 2015; double the number of visitors for 2015 and 30% up on last year.
Repairs and maintenance
We repaired the reduction gears and brake drums on the Case back/hoe loader and it appears to be working well.
We are investigating a possible attempt to defraud us by the stores personnel in the Land Rover division at CMC Motors. It appears that they have been quoting LPO numbers, supplying someone with parts not associated with our orders and then invoicing us. The matter was taken up with the stores person and Chief Accountant.
The road team worked on the lower road to Purungat and then moved to the road to Ngiro-are and the grader worked on both roads to Purungat from Serena.
We sold one of our old Land Rovers, KBK 098Q to Mr John Korinko
We completed all the main work on the temporary house for Dr Takita. It should now be habitable.
We have just started on the roofing over the uni-huts at Kilo 2.
Report on focus for February
Focus for March 2017
· Hold Board meeting on 17th March;
· Complete Management Agreement
· Complete roofing at Kilo 2;
· Look at piping water to the station from a spring nearby;
· Purchase two new tyres for the grader;
· Patch damaged sections of road;
· The Chief Executive will take a week off from 7th; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.