We normally expect June to be a dry month but the weather pattern that has been typical all year continued with two weeks of sunshine followed by several days of heavy, prolonged rain in the evening and at night. These all night storms have been very destructive and continue to cause considerable damage to the roads and airstrips.
The Chief Executive and Mr George Orr of Earthview management attended a meeting between the tour operators and landowners of Koyaki and Lemek Group Ranches at Aitong on the 16th. The meeting essentially put pressure on the Koyaki and Lemek landowners to appoint professional management and was attended by over 500 people. In the end the meeting split into two factions; the majority for private management, and they resolved to go ahead. A minority, primarily made up of the current leaders, opposed being pressured and may still have the influence to delay any momentum.
The Chief Executive spent time with Mr Luke Bailes of Singita on the 21st and 22nd. He came with a potential investor, Ms Donna Karan. Singita run a number of very up-market lodges in South Africa and would like to bring their concept to the Mara. They are interested in investing in Ol Kurruk and possibly adjacent areas.
We have set up a web page http://www.maraconservancy.com . This will be modified slightly and we will then work out a monthly update based on key information from the monthly reports.
One female elephant was reported by our community scouts to have collapsed on the 12th near Kawai on the escarpment. We investigated and found that she has an abscess on her right hind leg and a very swollen jaw. She was unable to stand and we shot her and took her tusks for safekeeping; the tusks were then taken to KWS Kilgoris. This elephant had a small calf and we arranged for the calf to be rescued, unfortunately the calf was never seen again.
The rhino female was injured, probably in a fight with another rhino, she had a wound about 30 x 20 cms across on the shoulder and was treated by Dr Kashmiri and a KWS vet on the 19th. The wound is healing and the rhino appears much better. One of the cheetah males (no 159) was treated for mange on the same day.
Three hippo were found dead during the month, all three were fed on by lions but only one of them was actually killed by lion.
We have heard that the first zebra have arrived in the northern Serengeti. They usually herald the beginning of the migration and we can expect the first animals in the Mara in mid to late July.
Mr Peter Sile (Lulei Mpaapa) requested a transfer back to the Council. Sile is a ranger who found it very difficult to report on duty when due and would like to be closer to home. We have asked the Council for a replacement.
We have decided to institute a bonus system for drivers as an incentive for them to look after their vehicles and equipment better. This took effect in June.
We have virtually completed the staff appraisal process, it went very smoothly and we are only left with people who have been on leave. Most contracts have been signed, we will review contracts for four members of staff who failed to perform well in the past year.
Mr Joseph Kortom returned from a one year Certificate course in wildlife management from the College of African Wildlife Management at Mweka in Tanzania. He passed well and his final marks showed a great improvement on his mid-course results.
There was a staff welfare meeting with management at the beginning of the month, this was followed up by their AGM on the 25th. The welfare committee have set rates for support to staff members in need as follows: death of an immediate family member Ksh 10,000 and damage to housing or property Ksh 5,000.
We reviewed overall occupancy rates for camps and lodges in the Triangle and it worked out at 68% for the 12 months May 04 to the end of April 05. This is detailed below:
The season has already started, with an increase in occupancy rates from about the 15th June, already Mara Serena is virtually full each day and will continue to be full throughout September. Little Governor’s camp re-opened on the 11th June after being closed for six weeks. They have refurbished 12 tents and the office/reception area.
We have circulated a list of park rules that we expect to be adhered to and will get Cheetah 1 staff to talk to drivers on a regular basis, to ensure that they understand the rules and adhere to them.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in June
A total of eight wa Kuria poachers were arrested during the month, all of them late at night when hunting gazelle with dogs. This brings the total poachers arrested to 407 in four years.
Six wa Kuria poachers were arrested in a joint patrol between the Ngiro-are team and the Tanzanians in the Lemana area in Tanzania on the night of the 4th. The poachers were part of a group of 15 who were hunting with dogs at night. They started hunting at 11.30 and had killed 7 Thompson’s gazelle when apprehended. After the first poacher was arrested one vehicle drove off to make the poachers think that everyone had left. Thereafter a further five were arrested between midnight and 5.00 am.
Two wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the night of the 11th by a joint patrol between the Ngiro-are team and their Tanzanian counterparts. They were arrested between 1.30 and 4 am.
Eight wire snares were recovered by a joint Ngiro-are/Tanzanian patrol on the 21st. An ambush was laid that night but called off in very heavy rain.
Two locals, one Masai and one Kipsigis, were arrested and taken to Lolgorien for cutting trees in the Triangle on the 23rd. We have recently had persistent problems with illegal grazing and tree cutting along the escarpment; much of it at the instigation of a local councillor, Mr D Kerenke.
Five cattle were stolen from Angata Barrikoi on the 18th the thieves brought the cattle into the Triangle before taking them up the escarpment, two cattle were recovered.
Nine cattle were stolen from Kawai on the night of the 24th, these were followed into the Triangle and recovered by our rangers the following day. Unfortunately the thieves managed to escape.
The store at Serena is virtually complete and will be ready for use in early July.
We graded the road between Mara Serena and Mara Bridge before rains put a stop to our work and undid much of the repair work we had done on this road. We met with the managers of Kichwa Tembo and Little Governor’s to discuss road grading. The grader has moved to Kichwa and will be working from there for a week in July.
The tractor cut game viewing tracks around Kichwa, there are still some areas that are too waterlogged to cut and we will wait a while longer.
We thatched three uniport houses in the Serena compound.
Both Land Rover pick-ups are now operational after having engine overhauls. One Land Rover, KAN 707K was sent to Nairobi for police inspection and annual licensing.
We repaired the tractor draw-bar and top links and the tractor is now fully operational. We also repaired the grader ripper.
Air Kenya have finally approved a site for the banda at Mara Serena and work has started again, after being held up for a month.
Revenue and Accounts
May revenue was higher than for the corresponding month in previous years and June looks to be at least as good as June 2004. Staff salaries were increased by 5% starting June.
The accounts for the quarter ending May 2005 show the following:
Vehicle spares were very high and amounted to Ksh 874,426 for two Land Rovers for the quarter. Fuel and machinery costs amounted to a further Ksh 838,445. However, the vehicles and equipment are now in good running order and we can anticipate a drop in expenses for July. We have changed our insurance cover for staff from Group Personal Accident to Group Life Insurance. Insurance costs amounted to Ksh 384,016.00 in May.
Report on focus for June
Focus for July
· Host Leslie Roach and her visitors from 3-8th;
· Host Board members and hold Board meeting in the Mara on the 22nd;
· Grade roads and fill in pot holes;
· Cut remaining grass tracks;
· Work with drivers on park rules;
· Order staff uniforms;
· Repair two drifts;
· Celebrate arrest of 400 poachers;
· Burn proposed blocks; and
· Tender for Earthview Audit.