The dry weather continued well into July, with cool, sunny days. There were a few days with generalised rain and light drizzle after the 20th and then the weather reverted to dry, sunny days until the last few days of the month.
The Chief Executive met with the new District Commissioner to Trans Mara, Mr John Chege on the 22nd, we discussed security issues in the Triangle and the possibility of deploying someone at the Serena airstrip to monitor aircraft movements.
Mr Deepak Bhatti of Syner-med, a pharmaceutical company in Britain donated a lap-top computer and digital camera to the Ngiro-are team. This follows his previous donation of a refrigerator that is in the staff canteen at Serena.
We interviewed two candidates for the position of finance and administration officer on the 27th. One candidate was found to be suitable and the Chief Executive given to mandate to show him the scope of work and discuss a contract.
Two male lions were injured in a fight on the 11th, one of them very severely. They fought with two males that normally live around Serena. We called in a veterinarian from KWS Nairobi to look at the severely injured male, he had a broken back right leg and there was nothing we could do for him, so he was put down. It is unlikely that the remaining male will be able to hang onto the pride.
The wildebeest started moving across the river and into the Triangle in large number after the first week in July, especially between Mara Serena and Mara Bridge. The late rains stopped the migration for a while but it is certain to resume in August.
We celebrated the arrest of > 600 poachers with a party on the 23rd at Ngiro-are.
The Warden Operations returned from leave on the 16th and then almost immediately took additional time off to deal with a sick child.
Two staff members M/s Nicholas Sarisar and Alphonse Saris were accepted for one year courses at Mweka. They arrived in Mweka on the 31st to start their courses.
We implemented the new salary scales at the end of July and also paid salary arrears to all subordinate, clerical and driver staff. We will pay arrears to the rangers at the end of August and the rest in September.
Most of the camps and lodges filled up in early July and will remain full through September. Our campsites also started filling by the middle of July and again will be mostly full throughout the season. We continue to turn away requests for camping on a daily basis.
The number of day visitors into the Triangle increase threefold in July, to 425 per day. This influx of visitors from other areas within the Mara is negatively impacting the experience for tourists resident in the Triangle, especially around the cheetah with cubs near Kichwa Tembo and at the crossings. On the 27th, the Board resolved to charge all day visitors from the Group Ranches full game viewing fees for entering the Conservancy. It also resolved to charge a “Game Viewing” fee od US$ 20 for all day visitors based on the Narok side of the river. The fees will take effect on the 1st August and 1st September respectively.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in July
A total of 28 wa Kuria poachers were arrested during the month, bringing the total to 629 since the Conservancy started operations. There were no known poaching incidents in the Triangle during the month. We concentrated our efforts this month on assisting our Tanzanian counterparts across the Mara River; along the river and in the Kokatende/Bologonja and Namailumbwa hills. The rangers reported an exceptionally high level of poaching in this region, with fresh signs of poaching being seen on a daily basis. In two days over 400 wildebeest carcasses were found, giving some indication of the scale of poaching in the most remote parts of the Serengeti.
One poacher was arrested by the Ngiro-are team on the 3rd, he was one of two people fishing along the Mara River downstream from Kokatende.
Three poachers were arrested on the 8th by a combined Serena/Kokatende team along the Bologonja river in the Serengeti. They had just arrived and were setting snares; 30 wire snares were recovered.
One poacher was arrested on the 9th by the Serena team on the other side of the Mara River, he was one of a large group that was operating downstream from Kokatende. They saw our rangers well before we were able to approach them and managed to escape with their snares. The arrested poacher was shot through the hand whilst evading arrest and was taken that night to Kilgoris for treatment.
Two wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 12th by a combined Tanzanian/Serena and Ngiro-are operation on the other side of the Mara River. One person was arrested in each of two groups of four poachers. One group had arrived that night and had not started hunting, the other group had been hunting for several days and had killed a five wildebeest, over 30 wire snares were recovered.
Three wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 13th in another combined operation on the other side of the Mara River. All three people in the group were arrested – they had killed three wildebeest and were preparing to leave, having hunted for nine days. 24 wire snares were recovered from that group and then another 30 wire snares were found and recovered in another area, there were five dead wildebeest in the snares and a sixth was released unharmed.
A major operation was launched across the river between the Conservancy, Anne Kent-Taylor Fund, TANAPA rangers and personnel from the Grumetti Conservancy and involved their helicopter. On the first day, the 14th six poachers were arrested in three different groups – in the first group one of two people fishing along the river was arrested. In the second group three poachers were arrested and then finally two people just after dark. On the first day 143 wire snares were recovered and about 220 butchered wildebeest carcasses found. That night one of the Grumetti vehicles was unable to find their way back and spent the night out in the bush with one of our rangers – the following day they arrested two more poachers, recovered 181 wire snares and found 186 butchered wildebeest carcasses.
Five wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 17th after a call from the warden in charge of Kokatende in the Serengeti. There were six poachers in all and they had stayed in their camp for four days and had killed six wildebeest. Four bows with arrows and five knives were recovered.
Five wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 26th by the Ngiro-are team along the Bologonja river in Tanzania. The five had arrived the previous day and had killed one wildebeest, 45 wire snares were recovered.
Saiyari Camp in the northern Serengeti was raided on the 28th and three tents broken into. A major operation was mounted the following day and by evening one of the thieves had been arrested.
The Ngiro-are team just missed arresting a poachers as they returned home at 5.30 am along the escarpment in Tanzania on the morning of the 30th . That day the Serena team collected 45 wire at Konyoike, just in Tanzania.
The grader completed the road along the escarpment and then started on the main road to Oloololo gate and Mara Bridge.
We re-thatched the gate house at Mara Bridge and then built a small thatch cover for the Earthview tent at Mara Bridge.
The mason started work on repairing the main house at Mara Bridge.
We tried burning one block as planned for the year but the grass was too green and we will resume in August.
Revenue and Accounts
We have instituted the new revenue split, as per the 10 year management agreement. In this agreement the Mara Conservancy retains 45% of all revenue and is responsible for collection costs; the Council retains 55% and is responsible for paying the Group Ranches. In the following table we continue to show the share to Group Ranches for interest.
Report on focus for July
Focus for August
· Start security training;
· Confirm recruitment of Finance/Admin officer;
· Hold Board meeting on the 25th
· Complete house at Mara Bridge;
· Collect new vehicles and tractor; and
· Implement “Game Viewing” fees for tourists from other areas in the Mara;