The rains eased off at the beginning of June, allowing us to work on the roads and repair much of the damage done by the exceptional long rains. However, we continued to have periodic and isolated storms over the Triangle throughout the month – just sufficient to keep the grass green, prevent the migration and delay burning.
We held our Board meeting on the 8th and approved our Annual Work Plan and Budget for 2018/19. A small committee was tasked to look at increasing Park Fees. This has since been done and their recommendations will be tabled at the next meeting.
We met with members of WWF on the 15th and again on the 22nd. Thy were doing a country-wide survey of security personnel in the wildlife sector and questioned some of our rangers.
Members of the Board met with the Governor and Mr J Kemboy on the 26th to discuss a budget and finalise the details on the Management Agreement between Narok County and the Mara Conservancy for the main portion of the Reserve. The budget was approved and now requires ratification by the County Assembly.
Wild Eye trained 12 of our staff on camera usage and taking photographs between the 21 and 27th. They also presented us with six very nice Olympus cameras for our staff – donated by Olympus and Wild Eye. We look forward to seeing the results.
Asha, the new dog has settled down well and is working at Oloololo.
We have moved two dogs from Ngiro-are to Iseiya.
One large bull elephant was shot dead along the Saparingo Lugga on the night of the 19th, just downstream from bridge. It was killed with a heavy calibre firearm and we suspect a guard form one of the camps. This elephant was extremely tame and used to hang out near the Oloololo Gate.
The cheetah moved her small cubs to Myles Turner’s hill and then disappeared on the 23rd. We presume that she has started moving with her cubs in the Serengeti. We moved our two cheetah cubs to their new home and that have settled in very well.
Two hippo were found dead, presumably from natural causes, both downstream from Mara Bridge.
The migration has stalled between Lobo and the Western Corridor in the Serengeti and we probably can’t expect to see many animals in the Mara before mid to late July.
The Mara Cheetah project published a paper on the impact of tourism and habitat on the survival of cheetah cubs entitled:
Natural and anthropogenic drivers of cub recruitment in a large carnivore (2018). F Broekhuis. WILEY, Ecology and Evolution. 1-8. https//doi.org: 10:1002/ece3.4180
Dr Broekhuis’ research showed that both habitat and tourism pressure had an effect on the ability of cheetah to raise their cubs. Cheetah that raised their cubs in open habitat raised on average 1.69 ± 0.14 cubs, whereas those that raised their cubs in more dense habitat raised almost twice as many at 3.04 ± 0.26 cubs. The alarming statistic comes from the effect of tourism on cubs’ survival rate. They raised only 0.21 ± 0.72 cubs in areas with high tourist abundance. Compare this with areas with few tourists; 2.32 ± 0.11. A very good reason to restrict tourist activity around cheetah with cubs. Interestingly, neither high lion nor hyena densities had an impact.
Tourist numbers have really picked up and by the end of June most properties were operating at near-full capacity. Both Bateleur and Olonana Camps re-opened after major refurbishment
One private car overturned on the 26th, definitely from over-speeding.
A total of 30 people were arrested for poaching in the Serengeti during the month and 71 snares recovered – these are the first snares for months. One hyena was rescued from a snare and at least two buffalo were killed and butchered in the Northern Serengeti.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person on the 9th morning along the escarpment and then later that same day the Iseiya rangers arrested three people who were fishing at Olaro Nyioke.
The following morning the Iseiya rangers left at 2.00 am and managed to arrest one person, from a group of three, just after dawn. That evening the Iseiya rangers joined up with their TANAPA counterparts and managed to arrest two more people at 8.00 pm at Lempise.
The Iseiya rangers found some snares near Jiko Nane 11th, they set an ambush but no one came. They collected 18 snares the following morning – the first real line of snares we have seen in months.
The Iseiya rangers patrolled along the Mara River, past Lempise on the 13th and saw five poachers approaching – they managed to arrest four of them. They said that they were looking for lost cattle but were almost certainly going to check on the snares we had recovered the previous day.
The Iseiya team crossed the river on the 15th for a three-day patrol. They saw nothing on the first day but that night the managed to arrest two people carrying buffalo meat near Mbali Mbali, in the Machechwe area. They were caught by using the hand-held Flir cameras. The continued their patrol and on the 17th they managed to arrest two more people – they came across a poachers’ camp found that a second buffalo had been killed. It was the same group as the first two people arrested, they had been sent to get donkeys to carry the meat. The poachers killed buffalo by chasing them, hamstringing them and then spearing them.
A lot of people were arrested on the 17th, the Ngiro-are rangers managed to arrest six people on the same day in two different patrols. In the first, they caught four people hunting hippo along Lugga ya Ngiri, a watercourse off the escarpment in the Lemai Wedge at 9.00 am. That night they left at 2.00 am, set an ambush in the same area and arrested two more people, also hunting hippo.
Four more people were arrested at night on the 19th by the Iseiya team when they set an ambush near Kichwa ya Ndovu, in the Lemai Wedge. The four were tracked using the big Flir camera as they came into the Park and were almost certainly on their way to hunt hippo or buffalo along the Mara River as they had heavy spears and food.
One more person was arrested on the 21st downstream from the army drift. The rangers found eight snares during their routine patrol, returned in the evening and set an ambush. Two people walked in to check their snares at 7.40 pm and one was arrested, the other escaped. A further eight snares were collected in the same area the following day. The person we apprehended had been arrested on two previous occasions, he said that he had escaped from jail a few months previously, after being jailed for four years.
Fourteen snares were collected on the 23rd around Limana Ndogo in the Lemai Wedge. That night there was a raid on a village between the Triangle and Kilgoris called Soit. One person was killed, a KWS officer, watching the World Cup. Three other people were wounded, all for Ksh 10,000 ($100)! Our rangers from Oloololo responded but no one was apprehended.
A routine patrol around Kasarani, in the Lemai Wedge, came across a giraffe that had been poached, half the meat had been taken. Twenty three wire snares were recovered and one hyena rescued.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested four people on the 27th near Lempise in the Lemai Wedge, four others escaped. They were fishing and had caught 23 fish. The following day the Iseiya team came across a butchered hippo and a poachers’ camp downstream from Mara Bridge. The carcass and camp were about a week old.
Revenue and Accounts
May revenue increased substantially over April’s collections but, surprisingly, was slightly down on May 2017. The issue of non-paying visitors needs to be reviewed – we had a total of 7,420 visitors, of which 4,863 were non-paying, and only 2,557 paid to enter the Triangle. 2,170 visitors had Narok tickets – nearly the same number as those visitors who had Mara Triangle tickets.
We have made an application to Safaricom for a Mpesa paybill number, so that. People can pay using their Mpesa accounts. This will go a long way towards reducing the need for cash.
Repairs and maintenance
We contracted M/s Cockrid to spray all the houses for pests between the 11th and 13th. Some houses had a large number of fleas and bedbugs and all had cockroaches.
The road team patched the roads along the river and to Little Governors before moving to the roads to Ngiro-are.
We started cutting grass tracks on the 16th and only have a small section remaining.
We serviced the grader on the 14/15th and then stopped it for a few days to repair the alternator and buy new batteries. We have now graded all the major roads, bar the roads to Little Governors Camp.
Mr Andrew Aho assisted us in repairing a small section of the road to Ngiro-are, between the big fig tree and Kilo 2. This section had been completely washed away in a series of heavy storms.
We brought in a senior technician from Kijito Windmills to overhaul our windmills and train some of our staff in proper windmill care and maintenance.
We have started making blocks for the proposed new stores and we have also started raising, and extending, the roof on the workshop. This will enable us to put all our vehicles over the inspection pit.
We replaced the roof and ceilings on one house at Ngiro-are and repaired cracks on the perimeter walls.
Report on focus for June
Focus for July 2018
· Continue working on Management Agreement for Narok;
· Complete cutting grass tracks;
· Complete grading roads;
· Burn one block, weather permitting;
· Replace roof on wardens’ house at Ngiro-are;
· Expand kitchen at Ngiro-are;
· Complete work on workshop;
· Order new vehicles and a tractor/trailer;
· Continue with road repairs and start repairing damaged drifts; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.