July was for the most part dry, with a few local storms in the first half of the month and some reasonable rain on the 31st.
Mr Ninian Lowis visited the Triangle on the 2ndto discuss options for our three campsites in the western corner. We are looking to lease them out as seasonal camps from July 2020 and we discussed different pricing options and focused on three, based on historical occupancy rates for the most popular camp over the past few years. We felt that we could work on 250 bed nights per month for the four months that the camps could be used, and came up with the following options:
Upon review we decided that Option 2 was probably the best and fairest. Option 1 presumed that the camp operator would be able to get 250 bed nights , but that there would be no incentive to fill the camp. Option 2 had a significantly greater monthly fee – creating an incentive to fill the camp in order to cover the monthly fee. We decided that Option 3 was probably unaffordable in terms of the fixed fee. We would only offer the camps to mobile safari operators and that we would start with minimum charge equivalent to the monthly fee plus 100 visitors in Option 2. This would give us an expected minimum income of US$ 26,000 per month for each camp in the first year. Beyond that we will be looking at operators who can meet our expected revenue as per the Table.
We met with Mr S Kahiga, a senior member of Kenya Airports Parking Services (KAPS) on the 15thto discuss issues.
The Chief Executive met with Governor Tunai on the 23rdto discuss support to the Narok side of the river and also to discuss a possible charge on visitors wanting to view a crossing – we are tentatively looking at a fee per vehicle. There was another meeting convened by the Governor at Mara Serena on the 27thwhich was attended by himself, senior members of KAPS (the contracted revenue collectors on both sides of the Mara river) together with senior County and Conservancy staff. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss improved revenue collection in the Main Reserve but we also discussed the proposal for support to the Reserve. This was followed-up by a more detailed meeting between County and Conservancy staff.
The Narok County Government have produced a draft contract for support services to the Main Reserve. This will be reviewed and then tabled at the next Board meeting – possibly before the scheduled meeting on the 23rd. We spent the 31stat Sekenani, looking at some of the more urgent issues with the Chief Park Warden and Administrator.
The season was a little slow in picking up but was in full swing by the middle of the month – coinciding with the first crossings into the Triangle. As usual, the crossings bring a whole host of problems - cars jostling for position, blocking entry and exit points, tempers flaring, people running up and down the river bank. It is unfortunate that we are still unable to deal with the crossings properly – despite knowing the problems each year. On one day, the 23rd, we had 251 Narok visitors cross into the Triangle, to avoid the chaos on their side but significantly add to it on our side – a minimum of 50 vehicles crossed over. On that one day a professional photographer counted 180 vehicles at a crossing – something has to be done to limit this.
We held a Wardens’ meeting on the 6thto plan for the high season and the migration and a staff welfare meeting on the 28th.
M/s D Aruasa and J Naiminda attended a week-long workshop on SMART in Narok and Mr L Molai went to a workshop funded by the Word Bank on devolution for their Kenya Devolution Support Program (KDSP).
Senior Warden F Peenko and Warden L Lankas were selected in the top 50 African Rangers Award funded by Jack Maa and the Alibaba Foundation for 2019. Congratulation to them both, they were two of 18 Kenyans selected for the Award.
One elephant calf was found dead near Sankuria on the 1st, there was no apparent cause of death. An old female died next to the Purungat ranger station on the 15th, she was found on the 16th.
The first wildebeest herds started crossing into the Triangle on the 16thand within a few days we had well over 100,000 wildebeest in the Triangle. The crossings were full of drama as usual, but the lack of crocodiles was very noticeable. Presumably they are estivating as there have been no deaths recorded.
We released our two cheetah on the 9thand within days they were travelling over huge distances – by the 22ndthey were well into Tanzania and they seemed to just keep moving South, following the River.
We made a total of 23 arrests; 2 as part of a team spearheaded by MEP, another seven in an operation with TANAPA. The remaining 14 were for poaching. A total of 51 snares were recovered, 24 wildebeest were killed, as were four hippo, one wildebeest was butchered and five rescued.
There was a report of a poacher killed by an elephant at the end of June, somewhere near Kampi ya Mungu, our rangers joined with their counterparts from TANAPA to search for two days but found nothing.
One person was arrested on the 7th, he said that he was cutting grass near Machechwe in Tanzania.
A number of hippo were carried downstream by the raised water levels in June, at least four were killed and butchered around Lemai in the first week of July.
A total of eight wire snares were recovered on the 11/12tharound Zonzo in the Northern Serengeti, one wildebeest was dead in a snare. The rangers set up an ambush on the 11thnight, two people came in but both managed to escape.
Our rangers from Nigro-are joined forces with their Tanzanian counterparts to take part in an operation to arrest ivory dealers from Tarime in Tanzania on the night of the 16th. The operation was spearheaded by the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) and the Tanzanian police. They managed to arrest two people trying to pass off giraffe bone as ivory – they had gone to the extent of carving and shaping the bone to look like ivory.
Our Nigro-are rangers joined up with their Tanzanian counterparts to search for a known elephant poacher on the 20th. They searched houses in the Kibaso/Masanga poachers’ route area and managed to arrest seven suspects, some of them with game meat.
On the 23rdthe Nigro-are team set up an ambush at Nyamburi in the northern Serengeti and arrested three, of eight people who were hunting wildebeest with machetes. They had already killed ten wildebeest when apprehended. The following night six more people were arrested for poaching: the Iseiya team arrested all three people in a camp at Ngira, the rangers saw a fire and managed to surprise the poachers, they had been fishing but were waiting to hunt wildebeest with machetes. The same night the Nigro-are rangers arrested three more people from a group of ten in the same area, six wildebeest had already been killed. In this area the poachers don’t use snares, they drive herds of wildebeest into steep a gulley, run into the herd and then immobilize them with a slash across the spine.
The wildebeest moved towards the escarpment and by the 28ththere were large concentrations near Maji ya Bett, we immediately started seeing snares and four were recovered on the 28th, one wildebeest was rescued. That night the rangers set an ambush and arrested all four people who had come in to check their snares and were in the process of butchering a wildebeest; seven additional snares were recovered.
The following day, the 29th, rangers searched the same area and found 32 snares; seven dead wildebeest, one that had been butchered and four others that they managed to rescue. Three more snares were recovered near Kasarani on the 30th.
Revenue and Accounts
We continue to collect more than the corresponding month last year; June revenue was Ksh 61.7 up from Ksh 55.8 last year.
Our draft management accounts for the year ending 30thJune show that we did as well as expected, and better than we had budgeted for (See Table 2 below). Our total income was up by Ksh 63 million (26%) on budget – helped largely by the fact that we were now getting balloon revenue from Governors Balloons – that made up half the variance. After paying out commissions to KAPS and staff for sales we still managed to show a gross margin of Ksh 241 million (Approximately US$ 2.4 million).
We managed to control expenditure reasonably well and were up by 13% on budget, our total recurrent expenditure for the year was Ksh 207 million (just over US$ 2 million) and this left us with a net income – after bank charges – of Ksh 29.7 million which will go towards our reserves.
We have a meeting with our Auditors on the 5thAugust to discuss the Annual Audit, but also to discuss Tax implications going forward – in the past we have been covered by a Tax Credit.
Table 2: Cash flow statement for the year ending June 30th 2019
Repairs and maintenance
Our ranger car from Ngiro-are hit a buffalo on the 9th, the driver was obviously speeding. The car was taken to Nanyuki for repair and is now back.
We cut our grass tracks and graded all our roads – the June rain delayed work by at least two weeks.
We replaced a culvert on the main road to Oloololo and another one near Mugoro. We then purchased sufficient culvert rings to repair several more.
Wildeye have bought a generator for the borehole at Purungat, we will construct a plinth for it, then dig a pipeline and install water tanks at the ranger post. We propose that campers accessing this water pay Ksh 1 per litre. To cover the cost of fuel and maintenance.
We completed a new room at Little Governors and then extended the kitchen before constructing a small table and benches for the staff. We also installed an Eastern style toilet.
We have started overseeing the construction of the Immigration post at the Angama Airstrip, hopefully it will be completed in September.
Report on focus for July
Focus for August 2019
· Meet Auditors on 5th August;
· Conduct Annual Audit;
· Continue with Immigration post;
· Construct plinth, tank and pipeline at Purungat;
· Improve one track near Oloololo Gate;
· Hold Board meeting on 23rd;
· Start providing support services to Main Reserve;
· Complete lease agreement for SafariLive;
· Work with Angama on toilets; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.