There were heavy and widespread storms in the last week of March, signalling the onset of the long rains. Most of the southern quarter and escarpment areas of the Reserve had been burnt in the early part of the month and these now have a tinge of new, green grass. The largest of the fires was set by the rangers from Ngiro-are and the remainder either came across from Tanzania or were started by our neighbours along the escarpment.
The Board sat on the 19th with one agenda item; the removal of five directors from the Board. This meeting approved a member’s meeting, scheduled for 29th April 2003, to remove the directors. A new Board will probably be constituted in early May.
We were visited by a delegation from the County Council of Trans Mara between the 27 – 29th March. The delegation was made up of the new Chairman, Cllr Mutundei, the Vice-chairman Cllr Cheriuyot, the Chairman Finance sub-committee Cllr A ole Maki, the Chairman Game and Forests sub-committee Cllr D Kerenke and the nominated councillor for Oloiren Cllr C Nangeya. They were accompanied by the Administrator and Acting Clerk Mr Masitoi and M/s F Ramet and P Sapalan. This visit was .a fact finding visit by the most senior officers in the Council and a prelude to a larger visit by all Councilors and the area MP scheduled for the 6-8th April 2003.
The review team have contacted us and said that they will visit in late April or early May.
Mr J Baxendale and the Chief Executive met with our two main donors, Mrs Leslie Roach and Ms Alison Jones at the Rekero tented camp near OlkiomboThe Chief Executive also met with Mr J Craig Potter, a Director of the Lewa Conservation Trust in the USA, when he visited the Triangle with Mr W Roberts.
The Chief Executive met with Ms Bunny Shaw and Mr John Glen of KATO to discuss issues of common interest, including revenue collection and Board membership.
Mr Martin Forster, Chief Executive of the CMC group visited the Conservancy on the 15-16th March. We also had visits by Mr Jonathan Scott, making a promotional film for Kenya Airways and Mr Tony Church, a respected tour operator.
Four staff members from PACT, including their local Director Dr B Polidoro, visited the Triangle on the 22ndMarch. They met with one or two local leaders in Kilgoris on their way back to Nairobi. Pact will prepare a proposal to the new Group Ranch Committee, currently being formed, on a possible collaborative community programme.
The Chief Executive met with the Chairman on several occasions to discuss various issues; especially restructuring the Board and collection of Revenue from Kichwa Tembo Camp on Oloololo Game Ranch. We are due to start collecting revenue, through Earthview management Ltd, on the 1st April as a first step in undertaking the management of Oloololo.
The Clerk to the County Council of Trans Mara, Mr John Naiguran, has retired after many years of service to the Masai Mara and County Councils of Narok and Trans Mara. The treasurer to the County Council has been transferred to Kitale, we have not been informed of their replacements.
Mara Serena hosted aEast African Legislative Assembly meeting for four days.
The female rhino returned to the Triangle with a male and was first seen on about the 12th March. The two remained together for just over a week and the male appears to have returned to Narok on about the 20th and the female has not been seen since the 24th.
There was a mini-migration of zebra from the other side of the river and there are currently several thousand zebra in the Triangle.
One large crocodile has bumped into the boat at Little Governor’s on at least three occasions in the past fortnight. The situation is being monitored and if necessary the crocodile will be shot.
Cheetah have been difficult to see, with two families, the BBC cheetah with her two cubs and the mother with four cubs living along the Tanzanian border.
Tourist numbers continue to decline and the revenue for March is expected to be well down on the same month last year. Those tourists who visited the Reserve in early March were treated to several zebra crossings of the Mara River as zebra moved in from the Narok side of the river.
On the 30th the manager from Little Governor’s called to say that two Governor’s Camp vehicles, with Little Governor’s clients, had been stopped on Koiyaki and asked for tickets. They were informed that Conservancy tickets were honoured on Koiyaki but that they would have to pay again if they held Narok tickets. It looks as if the whole concept of traversing rights in the Mara may have to be reconsidered in the light of issues between Koiyaki/Narok and Koiyaki/Ol Choro Orua.
There were 9 arrests during the month, bringing the total to 192. 22 wire snares were recovered.
On the 12th three wa Kuria poachers were arrested in a joint patrol with the Tanzanians in an area called Machocho – downstream from Kokatende. On the 13th one more poacher was arrested in the same area by another joint patrol. All arrests were made the day the poachers had moved in and no animals had been killed.
On the 16th a night patrol from Ngiro-are ambushed one of the paths going up the escarpment between the Ngiro-are and Kinyangaga border posts. They accosted two poachers who dropped bundles of dried zebra meat but managed to escape.
On the 25th one of our patrols saw the tracks of four people leave the Triangle near Ol-Are, the salt lick. Later we came across a hippo that had been killed along the Mara River, a few kilometres below Mara Serena by the same group. On the same day a separate patrol came across tracks of a group of poachers near Ngiro-are, it appears that they had come into the reserve the previous night, hunted and returned towards Angata-Baragoi on the escarpment.
On the 26th a routine patrol along the river came across some poacher’s belongings stashed in a tree, they waited and arrested one person as he approached the belongings. Later, that same evening, two more poachers were arrested in an ambush at the same site. The following morning one more poacher from the same group was arrested as he tried to return to Tanzania along the Tanzanian border. Those arrested were part of a group of seven who had arrived the evening before and had set 8 wire snares. No animals had been killed. All the poachers arrested were between 40-55 years old, most unusual. One of the poachers is a Pastor in Tanzania and another, known as “commander” the obvious leader, had been hunting along the river below Mara Serena for years.
On the 27th one of our night patrols accosted two wa Kuria poachers near “Mike Tango” part of a series of hills near the Tanzanian border just as it was getting dark. The poachers tried to evade arrest and one young man was shot and wounded in the calf and side. He was taken to the police and then hospital in Kilgoris and is reported to be in stable condition.
The Tanzanians mounted a major anti-poaching operation on their side of the border involving 50-60 rangers and at least four vehicles. They arrested 28 poachers in a week. One disturbing piece of news from this operation is that the Tanzanians found two poached elephant, each shot with a single bullet. The ivory had been taken from both elephant.
The GSU platoon based near Mara Serena were moved to Oloololo after discussions between the GSU, Serena and the Mara Conservancy. The GSU had complained that they were too isolated at their old camp and had requested re-location to an area adjoining the Mara Conservancy offices. Both Serena and the Conservancy objected to new development so close to the lodge.
The Senior Warden on the Narok side of the Mara has left, we have yet to meet his replacement.
Mr Douglas Sikawa was posted to the Mara Triangle as Senior Warden on the 25th, he replaces David Seur who returned to Kilgoris on the 31st March.
The Chief Executive managed to take four days off between the 14-17th March. The Chief Executive will try and use the low season as an opportunity to take some leave and will try and take two weeks off in April and another two weeks off in May.
The Chief Executive and Administrator met with the Welfare Committee on the 23rd May, a number of issues were discussed including the formation of a staff Savings and Loan Co-operative (SACCO). The next step will be for the committee to meet with all staff members and get approval for the formation of this SACCO.
Ms Carter Ong has been helping research possible sources of funding and has submitted applications to the Delano and Whitney Laing Foundations. She has also worked on a newsletter format for the monthly reports and is currently compiling a prospectus for the Chairman’s visit to the USA in April.
The casual mason and carpenter were sent home until July as most maintenance work has been completed there are no funds available for new projects.
The grader worked on the road to Ol-Are and Mara Bridge, re-shaping areas that had been eroded and clearing drains. The grader has now stopped work until after the rains and the driver sent on leave.
Revenue and Accounts
The threat and then onset of the war in Iraq has had a major impact on tourism to the country and this has affected our revenue in the Mara.
As expected, February revenue was slightly lower than for the same month in the previous year. We can anticipate a further decline in March, April and May. This situation may change for the better if we start collecting revenue from Oloololo Game Ranch.
Report on focus for March
Focus for April
- Hold member’s meeting to complete Board restructuring;
- Prepare prospectus for Chairman’s visit to the USA;
- Host Councillor’s meeting;
- Complete Terms of Reference for the new Senior Warden;
- Host the review team in late April or early May;
- Develop a management agreement with Oloololo;
- Prepare for an annual work plan to be completed in May;
- Hold Lodge Manager’s meeting on 10th April;