There was heavy rain on the 11th followed by daily storms until the 15th. The rains then stopped and we reverted to hot, sunny and cloudless days until the 30th, when there were showers. The rain led to a short growth spurt for the grass and most of the Triangle turned green for two weeks. The rain was definitely insufficient and the Mara River is lower than any one has ever seen it. Whether it stops flowing remains to be seen, but we still have at least six weeks of expected dry weather. Overall the drought will have a disastrous effect on Kenya’s livestock and agricultural economy. Large numbers of cattle have been dying in Trans Mara and Narok. People have been displaced as they search for pasture and children have found it difficult to attend school because of a lack of funds, or because parents have moved away from their homes.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Balloo Patel of TransWorld Safaris on the 4th to discuss matters of mutual interest.
Mr Jeff Green visited from the 6th for three days; he has a security company in Nairobi and has volunteered to assist us in training and equipping our ranger force. Mr Green may return in early February with a more concrete proposal on training.
The Chief Executive met with M/s Mick Murphey and M Wangatusi of Livingstone Consultants to discuss taxation issues on the 11th. They have been very slow in dealing with this issue but we have been assured that they had all the necessary documentation to proceed with an application for tax exemption.
We were visited by Mr Colin Bell of Wilderness Lodges in Southern Africa on the 12-13th. He is very keen to build a top quality 24 camp in the Triangle charging in the region of US$ 1,300 per person per night. He had been looking for a site on the Narok side of the river and had found nothing suitable until he heard of the Triangle. Mr Bell has already produced a very comprehensive proposal which was shown to the Board on the 25th.
The Board met on the 25th and welcomed Mr Dalton Konchellah as a new director. The audited accounts were reviewed and approved at this meeting. There was concern that progress on the new Management Agreement had stalled and the Board will meet again on the 3rd March to discuss a winding down strategy, in the event that a new Management Agreement is not forthcoming.
The Chief Executive met with the Clerk, Chairman and two Councillors from the County Council of Trans Mara to discuss a number of issues on the 30th.
Dr Kashmiri came up on the 1st and darted one of the two orphan cubs, the second hid in the riverine forest and could not be located. However, the following day the cub was located and Dr Kashmiri returned to dart it and take it to Kimana. Both cubs are reported to be doing well.
The wildebeest stayed until the onset of heavy rains on the 10th and then we saw a major move South. However, the rains stopped and by the end of the month there was a significant move back into the Mara Triangle and we still have thousands of wildebeest and zebra on both sides of the Tanzanian border. The first wildebeest calves started appearing in the last week of January.
At least eight hippo are known to have died in the past month, we don’t know whether they are suffering from the drought or have a disease problem. Dr Asuka Takita may return to have e look if the deaths persist.
The rhino calf joined up with her mother after being apart for over a month. One bull, the cow and calf were frequently seen together in the last half of January.
One cheetah gave birth to five cubs on the 21st.
We celebrated the arrest of > 500 poachers with a party at Ngiro-are on the 8th for the staff and our neighbours from Angata Barrikoi and Tanzania.
Four members of staff sat for the KPSGA bronze level examination on the 25th in Nairobi. Sgt J Kimojino passed with 75% and the other three failed with marks in the 50 - 60% range.
We held a staff welfare meeting on the 22nd.
One or two safaris are being diverted from the Serengeti and coming to the Mara because of the drought situation in Tanzania and the fact that a significant number of wildebeest have remained in the Mara. We anticipate continued high occupancy rates throughout February, Serena already have confirmed booking of over 90% for the month.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in December
Twenty seven poachers and three women accomplices were arrested during the month. Four of the poachers were Kenyans, arrested after killing a buffalo along the escarpment. This brings the total poachers arrested to date to 531.
Two poachers were arrested on the night of the 3rd along the escarpment near Kinyangaga. They were on their way into the Lemai Wedge to hunt when apprehended.
One poacher, who was hunting alone, was arrested by the Ngiro-are team on the 4th. 55 wire snares were recovered. The man had killed one wildebeest.
Four wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the afternoon of the 5th by a combined Serena, Ngiro-are and Kinyangaga team. The four had entered the Serengeti near the Lemai salt-lick after one pm and had killed 6 wildebeest by the time our patrol came across them. Five wire snares were recovered. The teams were responding to information of a large group entering the Serengeti and came across the four on their way to investigate.
Twelve wire snares were recovered along the escarpment in Tanzania by a joint patrol on the 6th.
Two poachers were arrested on the morning of the 10th by a combined force of our rangers and our Tanzanian counterparts. Over 16 wire snares were recovered and four wildebeest saved from snares. On the same evening the patrol arrested three wa Kuria women who had entered the Serengeti and were carrying the carcasses of two snared wildebeest back into their homes.
Four poachers were arrested on the night of the 13th by the Ngiro-are team after receiving information from one of the community scouts. The four were part of a group of seven who had killed a buffalo along the escarpment in the Triangle ten days earlier and had taken the meat back to their homes. The community scout was able to identify the people and locate the houses; we then mounted an operation to arrest them.
On the night of the 13th six zebra were killed and butchered along the escarpment, near Ngiro-are. One buffalo was found dead in a wire snare along the Ngiro-are swamp on the Kenyan side of the border. We laid an ambush near the site where the zebra were killed and at 1.30 am on the night of the 14th a group of wa Kuria came down the escarpment to hunt and collect the remaining meat from three of the zebra. Two people were arrested; the remains of the three zebra and 17 wire snares were recovered.
Two wa Kuria poachers were arrested at midnight on the night of the 19th by a combined Kinyangaga/Ngiro-are team. The poachers were in an area we know as Kasarani in Tanzania and were hunting gazelles with dogs when apprehended. One gazelle had been killed.
Two poachers were arrested on the 24th by a combined Serena and Kakatende team near Masanga on the far side of the Mara River and downstream from Kokatende. One poacher’s camp was found in which over 20 animals had been killed. The camp had been left a few days previously and the two had been told that there was still some meat remaining; they were on their way to collect the meat.
Four poachers were arrested in different operations by the Serena and Ngiro-are teams in collaboration with their Tanzanian counterparts on the 27th. In the first operation one person was arrested and eight escaped in the salt lick near Lemai. They were in the process of setting their snares and 67 were recovered. In the second operation, the Serena team joined forces with Kokatende and arrested three of four people between Kokatende and Lobo Lodge. They had killed two wildebeest, two zebra and one reedbuck. 18 wire snares were recovered.
Four wa Kuria poachers were arrested along the Mara River in the late evening of the 30th by a combined Ngiro-are/Kinyangaga team; one person escaped. The poachers tried escaping across the river and lost most of their possessions in the river, so no wire snares were recovered.
A technician came down from Wireless Innovations in Nairobi to service and repair our radios between the 12th and 14th. He returned on the 23rd to install a charger and battery for the repeater, to keep it going when Serena switch off power in the afternoons. He also repaired several hand sets and installed a new solar panel and charge controller at Mara Bridge.
Our solar system at Ngiro-are has not been working well and a technician came down from Nairobi on the 14th to check it. It would appear that one of the batteries was dead and needed replacement. Chloride Exide have recommended an upgrade that will cost Ksh 130,000.
We tiled the new toilet and shower block in the main camp and also tiles the bathrooms and toilets the Administrator’s houses.
We purchased two new tyres for the grader at Ksh 340,000.00.
We improved the road to the Mara Serena airstrip by murraming the worst sections and the parking area. We also graded the airstrip to try and remove some slight ridges that were forming in the middle.
Revenue and Accounts
The accountant’s computer crashed, losing all our accounts since the beginning of this year. We sent the hard disk to the United States to recover information stored in it. Despite the very strong Kenya Shilling we have managed to increase revenue by 9% on budget in the first half of the year from Ksh 31,450,000 to Ksh 34,405,000. Expenditure over the first half of the year was down by 3% on budget from Ksh 25,110,000 to Ksh 24,440,000.
Report on focus for January
Focus for January
· Continue with Ngiro-are office;
· Award tender for Earthview audit;
· Follow-up on taxation issues with Livingstone Consultants;
· Continue with road works on lower Mara Bridge road; and
· Finalise Seiya and Earthview contracts