Most of the month was dry, with the occasional thunderstorm and all-night shower. One heavy storm on the 29th fell on the fresh burn and should result in a flush of green grass.
The District Security Committee met with camp and lodge managers at Mara Serena on the 5th to review and discuss security measures for the coming high season. Managers expressed concern about the proliferation of motor cycles, the fact that they are frequently used in transporting thieves and the fact that motor cycles are on the road at all times of day and night. There was some discussion of establishing a curfew for motor cycles within a certain distance from the Reserve during the hours of darkness.
The Ilkerakeshe issue that has been simmering for months finally seems to have been resolved. The Ilkerakeshe Group Trust posted an advertisement in the Nation on the 7th, stating that they had received a Title Deed to 26,100 hectares (65,000 acres) on 15th December 2011 and that they would be collecting revenue from Kichwa Tembo, Batleur Camp, SkyShip and Little Governors. The advertisement thanked the Hon J Orengo, Minister of lands and Settlement; Mr Joel Tasur and the community for facilitating the Title Deed. Within 48 hours the Chairman of Ilkerakeshe and another Trustee were arrested for fraud. In the following days Oloololo Game Ranch and the County Council of Trans Mara also placed advertisements in the local press stating that the Ilkerakeshe Title Deed was a fake. This prompted a delegation of locals to see the Minister, Hon Orengo. He met with the delegation and confirmed that the Title Deed was indeed fake and that if they had any issues over money paid out, they should take it up with the perpetrators of the fraud. There was then a flurry of statements from members of Ilkerakeshe, stating that they will overrun the Triangle with cattle, make the Triangle unmanageable and blockade roads leading to the Triangle, unless Hon Orengo visited and issued them with their Title Deed.
The Hon Orengo did visit the Mara – close to Oloololo Gate, together with the Hon W Ntimama – Minister for National Heritage, on the 25th July.
There was a great deal of tension and a heavy security presence but in the end the meeting went well and the crowd disbursed peacefully. Hon Orengo was very candid and straightforward in his speech. He made it clear that the Ilkerakeshe Title Deed was fake, and explained why. The Minister made it very clear that the area in dispute was 10 square kilometres (approx 2,500 acres) and not the area stated on the fake Title Deed (261 Km2). Ten km2 is the area excised from the Reserve in 1975 (Gazetted in 1984) and now owned by Oloololo Game Ranch. It does not include any portion of the Mara Triangle. However, the Minister did go through the history of the 10 Km2 – saying that it was given to the community, as an access route for their livestock to the river. He explained that there was a legal Title Deed issued to Oloololo Game Ranch, he did not have the power to revoke the Title, but that if the Community came together – not as individuals, as was the case with Ilkerakeshe (their Constitution only benefited 10 individuals), - an application could be made to the National Land Commission for the revocation of the existing Title. Many of the Ilkerakeshe supporters were shocked to hear that they had contributed considerable amounts of money, only to have it benefit a few individuals. That one statement by the Minister silenced the Ilkerakeshe supporters and they began to leave the meeting.
We hosted 20 Judges and Magistrates from Western Kenya on the 28th. The District Warden and the Council Warden Trans Mara accompanied them. It was a useful visit and exposed them to some of the issues we face in managing the Reserve.
One of our cheetah has given birth somewhere near in the same area as the previous two sets of cubs. She was chased and nearly caught by a large male lion on the 27th.
The leopard with two cubs near Purungat returned after an absence of two or three months; she was chased away by a troop of baboons and we were concerned that the cubs might have been killed - the cubs are nearly full grown and becoming independent.
The first wildebeest were seen crossing Sand River, near Keekorok, on the 14th. Very few animals crossed into the Triangle and then turned straight back and the first real crossings did not occur until the 27th.
One young elephant was found dead of natural causes near Maji ya Ndege. One crocodile and one hippo were also found on the 31st, near the Serena crossing.
We look forward to seeing more comprehensive results from the hyena tracking that is being done at Talek and in the Conservancy. Preliminary results already indicate that there are very different degrees of movement between the two groups.
The Chief Executive will take three weeks leave from the beginning of August.
We requested 9 rangers from the Council, on attachment for three months, while our rangers are undergoing training at Londiani. The rangers arrived on the 21st and will greatly assist in our work during the high season.
Parmois Siampei and Alfred Bett returned from their respective courses at the Mweka College of Wildlife Management – both did very well.
Ms Caroline (Wamboi) Saruni will be leaving us at the beginning of August. Caroline has been with the Conservancy since we started in the Mara and has been an invaluable member of the team. We will miss her.
The camps and lodges have all been very busy in July and expect the same in August. However, current projections for visitor numbers in October are well down. This may change, depending on the migration.
Despite handing out copies of the Park rules to all visitors as they enter the Triangle (they are in 12 languages) we still have a lot of issues with people breaking the rules. On one occasion there were 15 vehicles around some lions, and more coming.
Nine poachers were arrested in July, bringing the total arrests in 11 years to 1,874; an average of 170 poachers per year.
A combined patrol came across a poacher’s camp at Nyumba Nane, in the Triangle, on the 13th. The rangers managed to arrest two, of the four, poachers and recover large quantities of hippo meat. That evening we set an ambush and managed to arrest one more person from the same group, as he tried to head home.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested two poachers on the 22nd at Kokamange, in the Lemai Wedge. The two were - part of a group of four people who were coming in to hunt with dogs and spears. Morani, one of our dogs was instrumental in the arrest of one of the poachers.
The Ngiro-are team arrested four, of six, people as they entered the Lemai Wedge at Kokamange on the night of the 26th. They were armed with spears. Over the next four days a total of 32 wire snares were recovered – the first for the season.
 At the same time two other parcels of land were excised from the National Reserve – one around Ol Kiombo and the other around Siana.
Revenue and Accounts
The financial year ended on the 30th June and our cash flow for the year is summarized below.
The Kenya Revenue Authority determined that the County Council of Trans Mara should have been deducting Withholding Tax on part of The Conservancy’s retained revenue for managing the Triangle. An assessment was agreed upon, amounting to Ksh 5,200,000. This needs to be paid and the Conservancy will then continue to remit monthly Withholding Tax; based on 3% of the amount retained by the Conservancy for management.
We ordered one Land Rover and two Suzukis, to replace our older vehicles. These should be ready for collecting in early August.
We completed cutting all the grass tracks.
The grader overheated and burnt the cylinder head gasket. This probably happened when bearings in the fan housing broke. This delayed our work on the roads, although we had managed to get the main roads graded before grounding machine for a few days. The machine is now ready and will complete grading all the roads within the first few days of August.
We managed to construct three culverts and one drift on the road to Ngiro-are. Hopefully this will deal with the worst areas. We also resurfaced extensive areas on the road that had been washed away.
We overhauled the Kijito windmill at Ngiro-are and replaced 10 sections of corroded 2” pipe between the windmill and the ranger station.
We undertook minor repairs to housing and guttering at Ngiro-are.
We burnt one block on the 27th – unfortunately there was virtually no wind and the smoke hung in the air over the main crossing points at Kuinana Kubwa.
We purchased fence posts to do the fence at Purungat.
We purchased two moveable cattle bomas, to assist us in impounding illegal grazers.
Report on focus for July
Focus for August 2012
· Complete annual audit;
· Complete grading roads and then to Mpata and Mara Timbo;
· Hire two lorries to help resurface main Oloololo – Serena road;
· Work on flooded section on road to Ngiro-are;
· Set up cattle bomas; and
· Survey Reserve boundary