We had a number of rainstorms between the 4-11th and then intermittent, heavy, showers for the remainder of the month, ending with a storm on the 29th.
The Chief Executive spent the day with three United States Congressmen on the 5th. The Congressmen: John Tanner, Alan Boyd, Hal Rogers and the Chief Administrator in Congress Mr Dan Beard were staying at Olonana, on a familiarization tour of Kenya and Zanzibar. They have a particular interest in the environment and hold key positions in appropriation committees.
Conservancy management met with members of the local community on the 7th. The community have established a committee to liaise with the Conservancy and we discussed a number of issues including: illegal grazing, employment of community scouts and compensation for livestock killed by predators.
Deloittes started their annual Audit on the 9th and completed their field work by the 25th. We expect a draft set of accounts in time for the next Board meeting in August.
The Chief Executive met with Dr Stephen Longacre of the FMC Corporation and Mr Richard Sikuku of the Agrochemicals Association of Kenya on the 15th, to discuss the use of Carbamates in the poisoning of predators. Dr Longacre is the Senior Regulatory Manager for FMC, the manufacturers of Furadan, a chemical that was implicated in the poisoning of lions in the Mara in April this year.
The Chief Executive met with Ms Bonnie Dunbar and Ms Lucille Ford to discuss a fund raising event at the Karen Blixen complex in September. Proceeds will go to the Mara Conservancy.
The Chief Executive met with officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on the 26th. KWS are looking for a place to establish a roan antelope sanctuary and are considering the Mara. The Mara Conservancy logo is of a Roan, a reminder that they used to occur in the Mara until the early 1990’s.
The migration started in earnest on the 4th with the first wildebeest crossing into the Triangle at the main crossing points at “Kuinana Kubwa”, towards Mara Bridge. By the 7th tens of thousands of animals had crossed into the Triangle, many of them moving down towards the Tanzanian border. Within a week we had well over 100,000 wildebeest in the Triangle, most of them concentrated between Mara Serena and the Tanzanian border. On the 15th the whole migration began moving back into Tanzania, following a rainstorm in the northern Serengeti. However, by the 24th the wildebeest had started moving back into the Triangle and a day later they were crossing into the Narok side of the Reserve, below Mara Serena.
One very large crocodile was seen dead in the river by the main Serena crossing point; there were wounds on the abdomen and we suspect it was either killed in a fight with another crocodile, or by a hippo.
The cheetah with five cubs, reported last month, has lost one of her cubs. Most of the cheetah reported on the burn in June have moved onto the border.
The KWS veterinarians came and took a wire snare off an elephant on the 5th near the escarpment. The snare was not deeply embedded and the animal should make a good recovery.
We signed an agreement with the Hyena project for their continued research in the Triangle. They will produce quarterly reports on their work; the first one is due in October.
Ms Jane Kipas requested, and was granted, a transfer to the County Council. She reported to Kilgoris on the 14th.
We arranged our routine transfers on the 29th. The Wardens were moved immediately and the junior staff were moved by the 1st. All the Alpha Scouts, the staff manning the gates, were re-deployed to other positions and we allocated other members of staff to be Alpha Scouts.
Tourism has not picked up as well as we had hoped. There has been a great improvement since the 15th July but all the indications are that the high season will be short, probably only two, instead of four months. Thereafter, tourist numbers will be higher than for the first six months of the year but only about 50-60% of the two previous years. The high global fuel prices, coupled with the recession in the US and Europe will probably mean that we can anticipate a slight stagnation in the tourism industry for some time to come.
This season we have instituted an immediate fine of Ksh 2,000 for any driver seen to be breaking Park rules. So far we have issued 21 notices for violation of Park Rules and collected Ksh 42,000 in fines. It is unfortunate that; as the season improves we have to spend so much time, resources and effort in trying to control irresponsible behaviour from drivers and guides. We continue to have particular issues with off-road driving, harassment of predators and crowding at crossings.
The following have violated rules:
We have also noted unacceptable behaviour from drivers from Mara Siria and Mara Serena, they were off-road driving in a closed area near the Mara River. The best cheetah sightings have recently been along the Tanzanian border. On the 29th 10 vehicles were seen viewing in Tanzania. This is illegal and drivers must be stopped from crossing the border.
19 poachers were arrested in July, bringing the total arrests to 1,056. 1,029 wire snares recovered during the month, all of them in the northern Serengeti.
The wa Kuria stole cattle from near Kerinkani, along the escarpment, on the night of the 30th June. There was an exchange of fire between the stock thieves and members of the local community and some cattle were recovered. Our rangers went out at 2.00 am and managed to recover the remaining nine cows and five calves by 3.00 am near “Kishangaa”, a drift on the Ngiro-are stream. Unfortunately the thieves managed to escape.
A combined Serena and Mara Bridge team arrested three wa Kuria poachers on the 4th along the Bologonja River in the northern Serengeti. They had killed six wildebeest and 11 wire snares were recovered.
The Serena and Ngiro-are teams arrested 6 poachers on the 5th in the Waga Kuria area of the Serengeti. The group of six had arrived in the area the previous day and had not caught anything. 15 wire snares were recovered.
A combined Conservancy and Tanzanian team, working near Waga Kuria, arrested one poacher, out of a group of three, on the 6th. They had arrived the previous evening and had not yet caught anything. Five wire snares were recovered. The following day 34 wire snares were collected but no poachers were seen in the same area.
The Serena team arrested one, of two, poachers on the night of the 8th, at 12.45 am near Waga Kuria in the Serengeti. Six wire snares were recovered. On the same night, at 11.00pm, the Ngiro-are team arrested one, of five, poachers. The rangers had found 70 wire snares during a daylight patrol near Konyoike and were ambushing the snares. 10 wildebeest had been killed in the snares.
On the 9th a combined patrol found 16 wire snares and rescued four wildebeest. That night a combined Tanzanian, Serena and Ngiro-are team set up an ambush and arrested three, of six, poachers at 8.30 pm.
On the 10th 34 wire snares were found at Kokamange, in the Lemai Wedge. A joint ambush was set but the poacher escaped, when the ambush was sprung early.
On the 11th 79 wire snares were recovered near Nyakita Pembe, the the Lemai Wedge. The following day a joint Tanzanian, Serena and Ngiro-are patrol recovered 110 wire snares around Maji ya Bett, quite close to the Ngiro-are swamp. There were 21 dead wildebeest in the snares and another four were saved.
On the 15th the Ngiro-are team arrested one poacher, as he and his companion were entering the Lemai Wedge in the evening. They had not killed anything but had six wire snares. During the day the same team and their Tanzanian counterparts had recovered 255 wire snares.
On the 16th 57 wire snares were recovered in the Kasarani area of the Lemai Wedge and on the 17th a further 37 snares were recovered. One wildebeest was saved and one found dead in the snares. That afternoon the Tanzanian rangers from Kokatende reported poachers near Saiyari Camp, both our teams went to assist and arrested two, of 12 poachers, unfortunately the remainder crossed the river into the Lemai Wedge and we had no vehicles on that side. Two wildebeest had been killed and the poachers were in the process of butchering them.
On the 19th four wire snares were recovered between Konyoike and Miungu in the Lemai Wedge.
147 wire snares were recovered along the escarpment, below the Kinyangaga Ranger Post, on the 22nd by a combined Ngiro-are and Tanzanian patrol. On the same day the Serena team found five wire snares, one with a live wildebeest. They ambushed the snares and at 3.00 am two people came in to check; unfortunately both escaped. The following day a further 32 wire snares were recovered near Miungu.
One, of two, poachers was arrested on the 24th near Nyakita Pembe in the Lemai Wedge. They were both on their way into the Park to set snares; 22 wire snares were recovered.
The Tanzanian rangers from Kokatende asked for assistance on the 29th and we sent our Serena team. The combined teams collected 84 wire snares; 50 of them hidden in a pile in the grass where one wildebeest had been caught and butchered; the remaining 34 snares were set and had killed three wildebeest.
Revenue and Accounts
Our June accounts showed a slight increase in income to Ksh 5.4 million, of which Ksh 3.3 million was in gate revenue and Ksh 1.8 million was in the form of donations. This was still well below the revenue collected in June last year of Ksh 7.4 million. With direct expenditure of Ksh 0.75, operating expenditure of Ksh 6.5 million and finance charges of Ksh 0.9 million, we ended the month with a deficit of Ksh 2.651 million. Part of the deficit was made up non-cash expenses; depreciation, at Ksh 1.1 million and exchange rate losses, at 0.8 million. We are going into a period of increased expenditure; we are due a number of large annual payments including: mandatory insurance, radio licences and purchase of uniforms. These will mean that we will continue to struggle financially for the coming months. We are grateful to Land Rover, who have agreed to cover half the cost of uniforms, we will be required to include the Land Rover logo on the uniform.
The Kenya shilling has depreciated against the US$ in the past two months, the shilling is now trading at Ksh 66:1 US$. This will help us to a small extent but the exchange rate gain will be more than wiped out by inflation, currently at between 30-40%.
The amount raised in donations significantly increased with a donation of US$ 50,000 from Ms Leslie Roach, given through WildlifeDirect. Dr Asuka Takita has now raised US$ 111,005. William Deed and Joseph Kimojino have also raised about US$ 60,000 through WildlifeDirect. We are most grateful to the above, and to Anne Kent-Taylor, who gave an additional US$ 11,000, for their amazing support.
We started placing signs in areas where no off-road driving will be allowed and also on tracks that we want closed.
We completed all building repairs at Ngiro-are and repaired the public toilets at Oloololo.
We are disappointed by the quality of work done on the Government contract to resurface sections of the road between Mara Serena and Oloololo Gate. The contractors left some areas un-surfaced, never rolled the gravel and left the road in a worse state than the original. We hope that they will return to complete the job.
We started grading the roads to Ngiro-are but were stopped by rain; work on these roads should be complete by mid-August. We graded roads to Little Governor’s and also the roads outside the Reserve; between Oloololo Gate and Olonana and to Mpata.
We continued our work in making the river road an all-weather road by resurfacing all black-cotton areas.
We brought in an artisan from Kijito to repair our Ngiro-are windmill, this windmill had been giving us problems for several months. We also used the opportunity to service the windmill at Oloololo Gate.
Report on focus for July
Focus for August
· Hold Board meeting;
· Complete roads to Ngiro-are;
· Continue to put in signs;
· Thatch uni-huts; and
· Finalise annual audit