The rains continued sporadically throughout March, with a number of clear days interspersed with heavy evening thunderstorms and light evening showers.
We received a donation of US$ 1,000 from DoDo World, it is much appreciated and has been used towards the purchase of “Cheetah II”. Cheetah II was collected from CMC on the 26th and we had an official handing over on the 27th with Mr D Bromham of Aberkrombie & Kent. This vehicle will be based at Mara Serena and Cheetah I at Oloololo Gate.
We held a Board meeting on the 16th that discussed increased park entrance fees. We will forward a recommendation to the Council that fees be increased in line with the KWS proposals for National Parks and that all visitors staying in camps outside the Triangle be charged a premium of 50% over and above the Park entrance fee. This proposal will exclude camps that had had a long association with the Mara Triangle.
On the same day the Chief Executive and Clerk, Trans Mara County Council met with the Hon G Konchellah, Mr M Janmohammed of Tourism Promotion Services and Mr A Merali of Neptune Hotels to discuss further tourism development in the Triangle. It was agreed that no further developments would be allowed, unless they were part of a well though out and structured management plan for the Triangle.
Dr Jens Jung and his Swedish students left on the 16th, after three weeks of research in the Triangle. The research team followed up on the Balanites study and found that young trees that had been protected by wire cages had grown considerably more than the controls and that those protected by cages and insect proof netting had done even better. It would appear that the young trees are damaged by both animals and insects. The team also looked at giraffe feeding habits, to determine whether giraffe are feeding on the young trees. A third team of students identified and measured all the trees in the Kichwa Tembo compound, as part of their on-going monkey study.
Mr Simon Trevor spent a week in the Triangle; he is making a film for his series called “Inspiration” and would like to make a film on the Mara Conservancy as part of the Series. Simon has made some very valuable educational films on wildlife and the environment for the African Environmental Film Foundation.
Three lions were reported killed by the Masai near Mara Rianta in retaliation for killing a goat at the beginning of the month. The lions were chased down in a vehicle and shot with poisoned arrows. The same day an elephant was died as a result of a poisoned arrow in the same area.
Later on, we heard that a total of eight lions had been killed around Mara Rianta during the month, many of them had been poisoned.
Honey’s three cubs are doing very well, they have moved from near the Kichwa tembo airstrip to near Mara Serena. They disappeared on two occasions during the month, on the first occasion they were gone for three days and on the second, for four days. They seem to have made at least one kill on their own and are being supplemented when necessary.
The cheetah with 5 cubs that had spent months near Mara Bridge moved across into Tanzania, as did No 151 and her large cub.
One injured hippo was killed by lions on the 19th, the lions were in turn chased off by hyena that evening.
Large prides of lions have been seen near along the river, where we have the best concentrations of wildlife. It would appear that one, or possibly two, prides have come across the river from Narok.
Twelve of the security staff, headed by the Warden Operations, went to Lewa Downs on an exchange visit from the 24th until the end of the month.
The Chief Executive will take a week off, from 9-16th April, to visit Zimbabwe.
Tourist numbers dropped dramatically in March and we can expect low occupancy rates through May. Occupancy rates hovered at less than 50% at Mara Serena for the latter part of the month.
Only three poachers were arrested in March and about 20 wire snares recovered. This brings the total number of arrests to 777. We witnessed a dramatic drop in the number of poaching incidents in the northern Serengeti; this probably coincides with harvesting crops and preparing the land for cultivation in the long rains by the wa Kuria and follows the normal pattern, where poaching drops off in March, April and May.
The Serena team found 12 wire snares on the 9th near Masanja in Tanzania and set an ambush that evening. They arrested all 3 poachers as they came to check their snares at about 6.30 pm, a further 16 snares were recovered, making the total 28. The poachers had killed one zebra and two impala, the zebra was eaten by vultures when in the snare.
The Serena team came across a poached hippo downstream from Kokatende on the 12th, unfortunately the poachers saw our rangers and managed to escape.
The Ngiro-are team recovered 10 wire snares near Masanja, in the Lemai Wedge, on the 25th, one impala had been killed in a snare. They ambushed the site until 11.00 pm but no one returned.
10 wire snares were recovered across the Mara River, near Kokatende on the 25th. Unfortunately no poachers were found.
Revenue and Accounts
Our net revenue, after commissions, for the three quarters ending 28 February 2007 was Ksh 63.7 million, against a projected revenue of Ksh 59.3 million. This was up by 7% on our budget. Our operating expenditure for the same period was 46.4 million against a budget of 44.9 million; up on budget by 3%. This leaves us with a reasonably healthy cash balance in the bank of 12.6 million. However, we have entered the low season, where expenditure exceeds income.
We completed construction of the causeway over the Sabaringo Lugga, near Kichwa Tembo. We are grateful for the support received from the Ministry of Public Works, Kichwa Tembo, Olonana, Mpata Safari Club, Mara Siria and Mara west Camps in completing this work. The project was larger than anticipated and took most of the month to complete.
We installed an 8,000 litre diesel storage tank near the Conservancy offices with a pump. The tank was filled with fuel on the 30th. This will now make us independent of Mara Serena and Roadstar for fuel and means that we are saving approximately 10% on every litre of fuel used; this translates to Ksh 40,000 per month.
We collected ceremonial uniforms for the security staff. These uniforms will be used for parades and National Holidays.
The grader completed work on the lower road to Mara Bridge and the main road between Oloololo Gate and the Bridge was patched up and is now in reasonable condition.
Report on focus for March
Focus for April
· Prepare Annual Work Plan and budget;
· Purchase supplies for Sergeant’s houses;
· Meet with AWF and Narok County Council on 10 year Management Plan;
· Start work on repairing the approaches to Mara Bridge;
· Check on replacement grader;
· Work on road to Ngiro-are before the rains; and
· Repair culverts and drainage ditches prior to the rains..