The heavy rains experienced at the end of December continued through the first ten days of January, with some areas receiving as much as 350 mm (14 inches) of rain during the whole period. The rains caused extensive flooding along the river and vehicle use along the Oloololo to Mara Serena road severely damaged the road. Most of the damage to the road was done by administrative, as opposed to tourist vehicles, and there a need for all lodges and camps to instruct drivers to be more considerate and not use the road during or immediately after a rainstorm.
The two staff members from Little Governor’s were never found. The Conservancy assisted in looking for then for three days but the river was in flood and it is presumed that the bodies were carried far downstream.
The County Council will be electing office bearers in early February.
Mr Gideon Konchellah, the newly elected MP for Kilgoris has been appointed as Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Health. Mr Konchellah has appointed a review team to evaluate the Mara Conservancy and they are expected to begin work on the 4th February – they are due to have a report ready by the end of February. The Chairman and Chief Executive met with Mr Konchellah to discuss issues relating to the Mara Conservancy.
One lioness was darted and treated by Dr Kashmiri on the 10th January; she had a prolapsed uterus and injuries along the spine and flanks. The male lion treated in early December for a dislocated leg was seen on the 20th, extremely weak. It was observed for three days and then put down on the 24th, when it was decided that the animal had no chance of recovery.
One lioness was speared by Masai morans from the il Ngunono manyatta near Lolgorien on the evening of the 17th, unfortunately the community scouts did not report the presence of morans in the area until 6.00 am on the following morning. Two of the nine morans involved were injured by the lioness. We have held meetings with the local leaders and have their assurance that this will not occur again – although one other group of eight morans from the same manyatta has tried twice to enter the Reserve.
There have been at least eight pairs of mating lions observed in the Triangle during January, two other lionesses have been seen with young cubs. One of the two seems to have lost her cubs and the other one only has one.
The elephant calf flown to Daphne Sheldrick’s orphanage died soon after, it had been without it’s mother for too long.
The rhino has been reported at Ol Kiombo on the other side of the river, she was reportedly seen mating again by the drivers from Mara Intrepids.
We held a lodge manager’s meeting at Mpata Club on the 10th. Ms Dee Raymer was asked to give a talk on establishing constructed wetlands and has also offered to hold a one day field demonstration for all lodge managers in March.
The Chief Executive met with the new Director of KWS, Mr Michael Wamithi. There had been a report in the local press that KWS would provide financial assistance to the Masai Mara, this appears to have been an erroneous report. Mr Wamithi expressed an interest in KWS taking up a position on the Mara Conservancy Board.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Jackson Mpario of GTZ to discuss ways and means of improving accountability and distribution of group ranch funds. It has been proposed that the advisory committee be established to prepare and review community development proposals and that no funds be released unless to a specific, approved, project. The Chief Executive also met with Ms Irene Githinji, a community wildlife specialist, in PACT with a view to PACT assisting in the administration of group ranch funds and raising additional community development funds. PACT are expected to visit the Mara in early February.
The Chief Executive met with Mr David Muntet, Treasurer Narok County Council, and Mr Samson Lenjir, Senior Warden, the Narok side of the Masai Mara at Keekorok. They requested assistance in rehabilitating the road from Mara Bridge to Keekorok and expressed a willingness to pay for fuel and allowances. This will be followed up with the Board. I agreed to find a competent grader driver to train their drivers for one month.
The Chief Executive and community development officer, Richard Saiyanka, met with landowners from Olonana on the 8th January. They are pressing for gate fees to be paid directly to them – citing Oloololo Game Ranch as a precedent. We have agreed to meet again on the 8th February.
Lord and Lady Sainsbury visited Mr J Baxendale for three days – Lord Sainsbury very kindly supports Mr Baxendale’s activities in the Mara.
Tourist numbers fluctuated considerably during the month, with lodges full one day and virtually empty the next. It would appear that the threat of war in the Iraq is having an effect on tourism, especially on those tourists from North America.
We held a meeting with Mr Shadrack Karabilo, of Serena Lodges, on the 1st January and he returned on the 23rd January to discuss tourism development and look at potential sites for “Serena Under Canvas”, a possible permanent camp of up to 25 tents. Serena will prepare a concept paper for discussion by the Planning Committee by the 3rd February and Mr Karabilo will return with Mr Jan Mohammed on the 12th February to view the sites again.
A total of nine poachers were arrested during the month, bringing the total to 172 since the Conservancy started operating in June 2001.
As already reported one lioness was killed by Masai morans on the 17th.
On the 18th a joint patrol between the Ngiro-are rangers and their Tanzanian counterparts observed a group of four wa Kuria poachers entering a thicket on the Kenyan side of the border between Ol Donyo Nasipa and the Salt Lick. The thicket was combed and all four poachers were apprehended. They had just arrived that morning and had no snares, but were armed with two spears and knives – they were accompanied by four dogs and were going to hunt gazelles at night with their dogs.
On the 23rd another joint patrol with the Tanzanians came across two poachers on the Tanzanian side of the border. Both were apprehended, with 11 wire snares, spears and one bow with arrows; again they had just arrived in the area and had not started hunting.
On the 27th a patrol by the Ngiro-are team came across tracks of poachers near Ngiro-are. The tracks were followed for a whole day by the Serena and Ngiro-are teams – to the river between Mara Bridge and Kokatende anti-poaching camp in Tanzania. The following morning the teams joined up, reported to Kokatende but found the rangers on a different mission. Our teams returned to the area and arrested two out of a group of 12 poachers on an island in the river – the rest crossed the river and escaped. This group had killed an impala and had wire snares, spears and bows with arrows.
On the 31st one poacher was arrested in a joint operation between the Tanzanian and Mara Conservancy rangers. The poacher was in a group of four and he was arrested in an ambush at 7.00 p.m on a path on the Tanzanian side of the border.
We have retained Mr Jaswinder Soin to prepare a balance sheet and profit/loss for the 2002/3 accounts. Mr Soin will be paid a monthly salary for part time work on these accounts with effect from 1st June – paid retroactively for the first seven month’s accounts.
Mr Samwel Kortom, Assistant Warden in charge of security, returned from leave and immediately requested a transfer to Kilgoris. This was granted and Mr Kortom returned to Kilgoris on the 18th. Mr Edward Nkoitoi, Warden III, will now be in charge of security.
Two security staff were re-deployed to Kilgoris. They were KPR ranger D Suya and KPR ranger J Nagida; both had been absent without leave from their duty stations for periods in excess of two months.
Mr David Seur, the Senior Warden, has also expressed his desire to return to Kilgoris – he is proceeding on leave in February and a final decision will be made upon his return in Mid-March.
The security staff were re-shuffled – a routine transfer conducted every six months.
Mr Richard Saiyanka has been given the go ahead to follow-up on a one-year community development course with Premise. The course is by distance learning – which will enable Mr Saiyanka to continue with his duties.
B Heath took no time off in January and Mr J Baxendale returned on the 15th after his Christmas break.
One of the sticking points on ratifying a Code of Conduct for security staff has been the issue of Unionisation. The Chief Executive and Senior Warden met with the Clerk, TMCC to discuss this matter and he confirmed that security staff should not be members of the Local Government Workers Union. We are awaiting a letter of confirmation on this issue.
The grader repaired the road between Oloololo Gate and Mara Serena – it rained the day after we had completed half the work and vehicles caused some damage again. The grader has a problem with the hand-brake release valve – and it will be fixed in February.
The tractor and trailer will be used to murram one of the worst sections near Oloololo Gate, Kichwa Tembo Camp have offered to assist with another tractor and trailer.
The tractor cut 150 kms of game viewing tracks with the gyro-mower.
The Uniports at Ngiro-are were painted and fitted with doors and mesh windows. The artisans also made minor repairs to the outer walls and buildings at Ngiro-are.
Mr B Heath and Mr J Baxendale have erected temporary hangars at the Mara Serena airstrip – they have been designed to be unbolted and removed if and when either leave.
Revenue and Accounts
M/s Deloitte & Touche have completed the audit and produced a draft set of accounts. This draft has been reviewed by the management and Mr Giles Davies; Deloitte’s have incorporated Mr Davies’ comments in their final draft. The draft accounts will be circulated to the Board members and a Board meeting convened to approve them.
The final payment to the CMC Motors Group is scheduled for the 15th February, for vehicles and equipment purchased by the Conservancy. We are very grateful to CMC for their understanding and support but the monthly payments of Ksh 941,000 have greatly affected our cash flow and ability to develop.
We can expect January revenue to be no better, and probably lower, than for January 2002. This does not bode well for the remainder of the season and we will continue to suffer cash-flow problems until the high season in June.
Report on focus for January
Focus for February
- Hold staff meeting to discuss matters of staff welfare
- Host evaluation team from 4th – 11th February
- Host PACT from 5th –7th February
- Meet Olonana landowners on the 8th February
- Attend a meeting Chaired by Dr R Leakey at Naivasha from 19th – 23rd February
- Repair grader and complete road from Mara Bridge to Mara Serena
- Murram worst sections on the Mara Serena to Oloololo road.
- Start work on the 2003/3 accounts
- Work with Serena on a site for “Serena Under Canvas” and present a proposal to the Planning Committee