July was hot and sunny for most of the month, albeit very hazy as a result of fires in Tanzania. The weather changed slightly in the last week of July, with cold days and very light drizzle on a few occasions. All the indications are for a very dry season – a marked contrast to the last few years, when it was fairly wet from May through to November. This time last year the wildebeest were just arriving. This year they have been here for a month in huge numbers and have finished most of the water in the small watercourses – they still have three dry months to go.
Our Chairman, Mr Martin Forster visited on the 30/31st.
The County Government is planning a stakeholder’s meeting on the 3rd August at Mara Sarova. It will be followed by a visit from the Minister of Tourism and senior County officials to the Triangle on the 4th.
One large female elephant was seen with a broken hind-leg on the 2nd. The Kenya Wildlife Service were informed and insisted that they look at the elephant before she could be put down. The following day the elephant collapsed and, only at that stage did KWS decide to shoot her.
A young leopard was found dead in a tree near Mara Bridge on the 9th – we do not know what caused her death.
The migration moved in at the beginning of the month – wildebeest at the main crossing points between Iseiya and Purungat and zebra at the Serena crossing. All the animals then headed straight South and concentrated along the border between the Salt-lick and Ngiro-are for 10 days before moving further North. We had two weeks during which there must have been half a million wildebeest in the Triangle – the slight drizzle at the end of the month then had them all heading South across the border into the Serengeti.
Dr Asuka Takita completed a 300 km walk from Nairobi to Oloololo Gate to raise awareness on the plight of the elephant in Japan and China, and raise funds for anti-poaching. The walk took 11 days and she raised in excess of US$ 20,000 in Japan.
M/s 51o have arrived to start a training course for our rangers at Ngiro-are. The course will continue for one month and will include modules in weapon training, patrol skills, fitness training, asset training (dogs, aircraft, night vision, vehicles etc). It will also include a commander’s refresher course and a patrol medic course.
The staff held elections for office bearers in the Staff Welfare Committee and also representatives in the Kentours SACCO. Mr J Maseto was elected Chairman of the Welfare Committee and Cpl J Maratim was elected to represent staff with Kentours.
Our rangers reported up to 165 vehicles at the crossing points below Look Out Hill. This number of vehicles, coupled with the indiscipline shown by drivers and tourists, disrupted most of the crossings, or forced animals to cross in unsuitable places. We were fortunate that this is a dry year, or we could have expected thousands of dead wildebeest again. The total lack of control at these crossing points is destroying the one spectacle that brings in so many people. We posted some of the images on facebook and the overwhelming response was that something had to be done about regulating vehicles and people at crossings. Suggestions included restricting the number of vehicles and charging an extra fee for watching a crossing. I believe that we are going to seriously have to consider restricting the number of vehicles at a crossing – maybe by charging a premium.
Twenty-two people were arrested for poaching in July, bringing the total to 2,109. 1,100 wire snares were collected and the rangers found 22 wildebeest, two giraffe, 2 zebra and one topi dead in the snares. Twenty five wildebeest were rescued.
A buffalo was speared and wounded by poachers near the Ol Ari spring on the 1st – we never found the buffalo and the poachers disappeared. However, we did find five wire snares on the Sierra Lima ridge and signs that two zebra had been killed and butchered.
Seven poachers were arrested on the 5th in three different operations. The Ngiro-are rangers arrested two people with eight snares at Kokamange during their morning patrol and then arrested four more people at Lempise that night with 15 snares. The Iseiya team crossed the Mara River and arrested one person at Ngira – downstream from Kokatende.
The following night the Iseiya team arrested one more person at Ngira. He was part of a group of poachers hunting with machetes and had killed one wildebeest. The people in this area are increasingly using machetes to slash and hamstring animals that have been driven into an obstruction – usually a watercourse. It seems to be a crude, but effective, way of killing wildebeest.
Our rangers received a report of ivory hidden near Kawai – they recovered the tusks and found that they had been taken from an old skull by two herders who did not know what to do with the tusks. The rangers were satisfied with the explanation and did not arrest the young men.
The Ngiro-are team arrested one person on the 7th near Kokamange and recovered 17 wire snares. The following day they recovered 38 wire snares near Maji ya Bett and on the 10th a further 22 snares were recovered. One wildebeest was rescued on the 10th.
The Ngiro-are rangers ambushed where they found six snares near Maji ya Bett, two people came in on the night of the 11th; unfortunately both escaped. The following day the same team recovered another 23 snares near Miungu.
The Iseiya team went across the river to join up with TANAPA rangers from Machechwe on the 11th and arrested two people the same day, as they came in to hunt wildebeest with machetes. That night a gang of eight people were ambushed near Ngira and the team managed to arrest two more people at around midnight.
The Ngiro-are rangers collected 92 wire snares along the escarpment in the Lemai Wedge on the 13th. Six wildebeest had been killed in the snares and another three were rescued. The following day the same team arrested one person near Kasarani as he entered the Park to hunt – he had no snares on him.
The Iseiya rangers recovered three snares on the 15th near Nyakita Pembe, in the Lemai Wedge and on the 17th the Ngiro-are rangers collected 78 snares – nothing had been caught in the snares. A further 53 snares were recovered by both teams on the 19th – 6 wildebeest had been killed and butchered and two were saved.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person on the evening of the 20th as he, and others, came into the Lemai Wedge to hunt.
The rangers collected 264 wire snares between the 20th and 25th – 102 of them in the Triangle, near Ol Donyo Olpaek. Nine wildebeest and one topi were either found dead, or had been butchered, in the snares. Two wildebeest were rescued.
The Narok County rangers at Sekenani Gate arrested three suspicious people on the 26th. It was a good thing that they did so – one of the three is a well known poacher who had jumped bail in Nanyuki. He was being prosecuted for rhino poaching in Laikipia and was implicated in the killing of a number of rhino near Naivasha. He was arrested with night vision goggles, a GPS and a pruning saw, and was certainly going to poach some of the Mara rhino.
A total of 502 wire snares were collected by various patrols between the 26th and 30th. Two giraffe, and seven wildebeest had been killed and butchered in the snares and 20 wildebeest rescued. During this period seven people were arrested. Three people were arrested on night of the 28th in the Lemai Wedge as they came in to hunt – they were part of a larger group of 15 people. The Iseiya team arrested four, of eight, people at Ngira on the 30th. This group had set their snares in the Lemai Wedge but were camping on the other side of the river.
Revenue and Accounts
Revenue collected in June was slightly higher than for the same period in 2012 – the first time in months that we have seen an increase on last year. Visitor numbers were slow to pick up in July but all the camps were full by the end of the month.
The Annual Audit will start in the first week of August.
The grader worked on the road to Mpata Club.
The back-hoe loader had a problem with its brakes and was out of action for a week, as we sourced the spares. This delayed work on resurfacing the main roads but we did manage to stockpile sufficient murram for the lorries to resurface the roads as required. The first lorry arrived on the 30th and managed to carry 20 loads – at this rate the work will be completed in a week.
We re-routed all traffic through the gate at Oloololo. Previously traffic could cut down to the Kichwa airstrip by turning off before the gate. This has enabled the KAPS staff to operate from the gate, rather than from a booth 40 metres away.
We repaired and repainted all the buildings at Ngiro-are and installed a plinth for an additional water tank.
We received new signs and have started installing them on the roads.
We deferred the proposed burn as we wanted to retain as much grass as possible for the wildebeest.
Report on focus for July
Focus for August 2013
· Start training programme for selected rangers;
· Complete Annual Audit;
· Complete resurfacing roads;
· Host County Executive and Minister for Tourism on 4th;
· Install tank at Ngiro-are;
· Receive new dogs from America;
· Complete new signs; and
· Survey Reserve boundary;