The rains continued throughout most of June, with steady, all-night drizzle on many occasions. This rain has made it extremely difficult to work on our roads and the road to Ngiro-are along the escarpment is completely impassable, and will be for some time.
A Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) audit of the Council has raised the possibility that the Council should have been deducting withholding tax fro the Conservancy’s share of revenue. We have jointly engaged a tax consultant to deal with KRA on the matter.
We have been hoping to start the boundary survey but have been bedevilled by delays – hopefully it will now start in early July.
China Central Television (CCTV) will be in the Mara with a big crew to live broadcast the migration as it arrives. They will be working on both sides of the river but be based in Narok.
One lioness from the Oloololo pride was seen with a very swollen face and throat on the 20th; the next day she was dead. We assume that it was a snakebite – probably from a puff adder.
We have at least two leopard with cubs – one of them is being seen almost daily with three cubs.
Two male giraffe were found dead in the past month – we are concerned that at least one of them died from Anthrax, unfortunately there was no veterinarian available to confirm.
The cheetah with one cub is being seen on a regular basis, the cub seems to be thriving.
There is no sign, yet, of the migration. It will probably take at least two weeks after the rain stops before we see the first animals and we can’t expect much before mid July.
Corrine Kendall has been studying vultures in the Masai Mara for her PhD and her recent report presents some alarming information of the decline of various vulture species over the past few years. Some of the key findings:
- Egyptian vultures have been locally extirpated (I have only seen one in the past two years).
- Declines in other species range from 62% for Hooded vultures to 28% for Tawny eagles – there were no figures given for Ruppell’s and White-backed vultures because of the relative difficulty in identifying them on the wing. It would appear the Ruppell’s were doing relatively well, but that White-backed vultures have declined dramatically.
- Home ranges for vultures are huge. Ranging from 22,000 Km2 for Lappet-faced to 168,000 Km2 for Ruppell’s vultures. Given the vast ranges, it is likely that the declines noted in the Mara mirror declines in Kenya as a whole.
- Poisoning of vultures, primarily with Carbamate pesticides, used to kill mammalian predators, is suspected as the major cause for the decline. 25% of the vultures tagged during the study were killed by such poisoning.
- The huge decline in wildlife populations in many areas of the country will have an impact on vulture populations.
David Green has returned to the Triangle to work towards his PhD on hyena. He has already collared some hyena in the Triangle, as well as some near Talek, and is beginning to get very interesting information on hyena movement.
Amanda Subalusky and Chris Dutton have also just returned to continue with their work on the Mara River.
We started the dog vaccination campaign on the 5th.
We sent 14 rangers on a three-month paramilitary course at the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) training school in Londiani from the 24th. This will complete formal training for virtually all our rangers.
Wardens Samuel Kortom and Joseph Kimojino went on leave in June.
The Kenya Wildlife Service conducted MIST training on the 14th.
Tourist numbers have picked up from late June and all the indications are that the season will be good – most camps are projecting excellent occupancy rates for the high season. However, bookings will drop again in October and thereafter and we can’t expect much improvement until after the elections in March 2013.
A total of 17 poachers were arrested in June, four of them in the Triangle. This brings the total to 1,865 in eleven years – an average of of 170 poachers a year.
A routine patrol on the 6th saw where poachers had dug warthog out of a hole and killed them near a hill we call “Watu Tisa”. They followed the tracks for about 5 kilometers and came across the poachers in their camp – well within the Triangle, between Egyptian Goose and Ngorien. They managed to arrest two people immediately and then spent the rest of the afternoon searching for the other four. Two more people were found and arrested – one of them hidden in a stream – standing up to his chest in water and covered by grass growing over the edge. The other was hidden in tall grass about 200 meters from their camp. They had been in the camp two nights and had killed four warthog; they would have stayed another three nights. They had one dog and spears.
The Iseiya rangers crossed the river and conducted a patrol with our Tanzanian counterparts from Kokatende on the 27th. They came across ten poachers hunting with snares, dogs and spears and managed to arrest six of them. The river at Kokatende has been un-crossable for some time and this was the first time we have conducted a patrol in that area in a while.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested seven poachers on the 30th, in two separate patrols. In the first patrol, three people were arrested near Olare Nyoike in the Lemai Wedge as they came in to hunt with dogs and spears. The same night the patrol arrested four, of five, people near Kasarani, also in the Lemai Wedge. These people were also hunting with dogs and spears.
Revenue and Accounts
KAPS repaid Ksh 2,729,154 in May. This was part of the money stolen by employees a year ago – the remainder will be repaid over the next four months. The court case against the suspected fraudsters is ongoing.
The financial year ended on 30th June, we will plan for the annual audit in July or early August.
We started grading the roads at the beginning of June but were forced to stop by the rains after two days; the same happened with cutting grass tracks. We did manage to start the grader again towards the end of June and will continue with cutting grass tracks from the beginning of July.
We completed the repair work at the Hippo Pools with the construction of 30 gabions to shore up the riverbank.
We completed the kitchen and mess at the Little Governor’s station and installed one new water tank.
We painted the Offices at the Iseiya station and managed to do a number of minor repairs to the buildings.
We removed the fence at Purungat and have ordered new fence posts.
Report on focus for June
Focus for July 2012
· Prepare for annual audit;
· Complete grading roads;
· Complete cutting grass tracks;
· Install at least three new culverts and three drifts on the road to Ngiro-are;
· Murram the worst sections of the main Serena/Oloololo road;
· Complete boundary survey; and
· Receive mobile bomas.