The review team called a meeting on the 8th July to discuss the next steps. It was agreed that a workshop for around 40 people will be held in Nairobi on the 6-7th August to release the report, discuss it and chart a way forward. Pact have agreed to fund the cost of this meeting and assist with logistics.
The Provincial and District Security teams spent the night of 10th July at Mara Serena, they were accompanied by the MP, Chairman of the County Council of Trans Mara and Cllr. Ole Kijabe.
A lodge manager’s meeting was held on the 9th July at Mara Serena. Major points raised included: road use during the rains or immediately after rain and increased park fees, with particular reference to resident and re-supply vehicles.
The new Mara Siria Community Trust sat on the 14th to deliberate on the distribution of Group Ranch funds for June. They are planning to sit again on the 14th August – this committee has made the distribution of Group Ranch funds much more equitable and transparent.
We burnt one of the two blocks planned for this year, unfortunately someone else also decided to burn at the same time and we ended up with a fire at least twice the size of the one we had anticipated. The culprit was found and action taken. The Serengeti ecological monitoring unit visited on the 1st August to inform us of their intention to burn along the border. That day they set a fire all along the border which then came into the Triangle between Mara Bridge and Mlima Tatu.
Alison Jones spent two nights in the Triangle, she will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in early August and has asked her friends and supporters to sponsor her and Jackson Looseya up the mountain. At last count we heard that Alison has raised US$ 12,000.
The Board met on the 25th July and appointed Mr Martin Forster as a Director. Mr Forster is CEO of the CMC group of companies, one of the bigger companies in Kenya. It was also agreed that the Chief Executive should have an ex-officio position on the Board. The Board deliberated on the annual work plan and approved it and the budget with minor amendments.
Mr Paul Tudor Jones has pledged US$ 65,000 on a matching or “challenge” grant basis to cover budget shortfalls brought about by the crisis in tourism. That is, we have to raise matching funds before he will release the full amount. This follows on Leslie Roach’s “challenge” grant of US$ 25,000. We are very grateful for their support and hope that we can meet their challenges.
We held a staff party on the 26th to celebrate 2 years in the Mara and the arrest of >200 poachers. We also invited members of the local community and representatives from the camps and lodges in the Triangle. Alison Jones also attended.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Yasufumi Mori of Todo Press in Japan. Mr Mori has proposed that a company in Japan will be willing to provide the Conservancy with road construction equipment and we have given him a brief proposal for construction.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Philip Coulson of Kaplan & Stratton Advocates twice on a number of legal issues.
The crocodile at Little Governor’s camp returned after an absence of two months. It started menacing the boat again and it was decided that the animal should be shot. This was done on the 3rd. It was a very large crocodile, at least 14 feet in length, with a large abscess on the left flank.
A very thin lioness was seen on the 5th down below Mara Serena, she had a deep, suppurating, wound on the side that had probably penetrated the stomach. A thin male lion was also seen on the 10th. Neither of these lions were seen again and it is presumed that the lioness died.
Lions have become a real problem with cattle killing, we received a report that eight lions had been killed between Mpata Club and Kirindon, well outside the Reserve, at the end of June for cattle killing. On the 6th July there was a report of lion killing a cow next to Kichwa Tembo camp. We went there, just in time to avert another killing of a large male by about 100 Masai; mainly armed with bows and poisoned arrows.
The migration started crossing Sand River in the last week of July but no animals have been seen crossing into the Mara Triangle. All the reports are that this year there will be a very spectacular migration, the wildebeest population has been estimated at 1.5 million animals this year by researchers in the Serengeti.
There are three groups of cheetah being seen on almost a daily basis, two of these groups have moped onto the burnt areas near Mara Serena.
As expected June was a disaster, with revenue approximately 60% below June the previous year. There has been some improvement in tourist numbers during July but we can only expect July to approach June 2002 in terms of visitors to the Reserve. It would appear that we will lose one month of the high season completely and that the remainder of the high season (July to October) may be down by up to 20% on last year.
A total of 6 poachers were arrested during the month, bringing the total arrested by the Mara Conservancy to 216. A further 24 wire snares were also recovered.
On the night of 11th July an eight-day ambush at Mara Bridge finally paid off and we arrested two people carrying tusks weighing 24.2 and 23.7 Kg respectively. The two were part of a gang of 7 wa Kuria poachers who had crossed the river a week before – the others escaped. The following day the two poachers took us, together with Tanzanians from Kokatende and the Senior Warden from Narok, to the site where they claimed that they found a dead elephant. It was a large bull elephant on the banks of Sand River, just below Roan Hill. There was what appeared to be a bullet wound on the right flank, just behind the ribs. Further investigation indicated that the elephant was one of two bulls shot and wounded by Narok rangers for terrorising locals near Mara Simba Camp and that indeed the poachers had found it. They were taken to court and each jailed for two years and two months. 10 wire snares were found hidden in a tree on the Tanzanian side of Sand River during the same exercise – they had been left there in anticipation of the migration.
On the 14th a routine patrol came across 4 wire snares set the previous day at Daraja Mbili in Tanzania. We ambushed the site but the poachers never returned – they had obviously seen us.
On the 18th one poacher was arrested out of a large group operating at night in a joint patrol with the Tanzanians on the Tanzanian side of the Border.
On the 22nd three poachers were arrested during a night patrol at Ol Donyo Nasipa hill on the Kenya/Tanzanian border. They were observed as they came down the escarpment and approached a small concentration of animals near the hill. By the time our team was in position to arrest the poachers, they had already killed one Thompson’s gazelle and one reedbuck. The first animals known to have been killed in the reserve for several months.
On the 29th a routine patrol came across seven freshly laid snares on the Tanzanian side of the border, no one was arrested.
The Senior Warden took ten days off between the 10 – 20th. Edward Nkoitoi, Warden security will take his annual leave in August.
Louisa Richmond-Coggan, a student from Lancaster University came out at the beginning of the month for five weeks. She has been looking at predator sightings and movements as part of her degree course.
The Chief Executive took no time off in July.
We graded the main roads in preparation for the high season and also assisted Mpata Club by grading the road to Mpata. The grader has been stopped and the compressor removed for service. We continue to get requests by Serena and the Senior Warden, Narok to assist in grading the Mara Bridge to Keekorok road. Unfortunately this road has been allowed to get into such a state of disrepair that any work to rehabilitate this road would entail very heavy road-works, that are bound to damage the grader and make it uneconomical for us to do the work.
We cut approximately 200 kms of grass game viewing tracks during the month.
The carpenter fixed all the ceilings and broken windows in the buildings. The stone-mason set signs for the airstrip and speed limits in natural stone and will continue with more signs in August. The painter touched up some of the buildings and will continue in August.
We constructed a barrier in Nairobi and this was brought down to the Mara. We will install this barrier at Mara Bridge and build a small guard post at the bridge. In future we will monitor all vehicles crossing into the Triangle and produce daily reports on vehicle and passenger movements for the office.
We have purchased a Maruti 4X4 pick-up for animal monitoring and anti-harassment duties and this will be ready for collection in mid-August. We are most grateful to the BBC for their contribution of £ 4,850 towards this vehicle and also to Alison Jones for a further US$ 2,500 that will go towards the purchase of this vehicle.
Revenue and Accounts
As already stated, revenue for June was well down on June the previous year and we can expect July revenue to be about the same as for June last year. We have managed to pay off some of our outstanding debts but have a number of large bills looming for August and September. These include legal fees of Ksh 400,000, Insurance of over Ksh 500,000 and Audit of Ksh nearly Ksh one million.
We have taken over control of all park tickets from Earthview as part of our programme to segregate revenue collection duties.
Report on focus for July
Focus for August
- Meet with Tourism Trust Fund officials;
- Meet with Dr Laurie Marker of Cheetah Conservation Fund;
- Complete repairs to buildings;
- Erect barrier at Mara Bridge and start construction of guard-house at the barrier site;
- Hold Review Team workshop at the Fairview Hotel on 6-7th August;
- Take position of new vehicle and establish animal monitoring team;
- Complete 2002/3 accounts and start audit;
- Review adherence to ToR for the Board;
- Review Memorandum and Articles of Association.