March was, for the most part, dry – with a few showers. This enabled us to burn the planned block with an ideal, slow, cool burn that did not damage the thickets.
The Chief Executive attended World Wildlife Day in Narok on the 3rd.
The Chief Executive met with George Wamukoya, Drs Evans Mwangi and Scott McCormick and Lena Munge on the 17th to discuss possible support from Planning for Resilience in East Africa Through Policy Adaptation, Research and Economic Development (PREPARED), a USAID funded programme. PREPARED have committed to funding an audit of all the camps and lodges in the Reserve as support to the Management Plan – which we now hope will be completed within two months.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Muhamud Janmohamed and Mr Paul Chaulo of Serena on the 31st, to discuss problems that they are experiencing with the enforcement of the 24 hour ticket. Although we have always had a 24 hour ticket, it was not enforced strongly enough and has created a loophole that is being exploited by clients overstaying in the Reserve. We also discussed other issues and agreed to discuss the following with Narok County:
- Ensuring uniformity in revenue collection between the Narok portion of the Reserve and the Mara Triangle;
- Having a low season rate to encourage visitors;
- Implementing a “day” rate for visitors who may want to extend their stay by up to six hours – this day rate would be at 50% of the normal Park Fee. It would only apply to clients who had already paid for at least one full day’s Park Fees and would not apply to casual day visitors.
Dr Elena Chelysheva from the Mara/Meru Cheetah Project produced her Annual Report on cheetah in the Triangle. She recorded a total of 69 cheetah in the Mara ecosystem, of which 13 (5 males, 2 females and 6 cubs) were frequently seen in the Triangle. Two males that had been based in the Triangle (the Oloololo brothers) in 2014 went across the Mara River and based themselves around Talek – one subsequently died from suspected Cat Flu.
The Chief Executive took a week off at the beginning of the month. He and his daughter were also robbed at gunpoint on the 29th whilst walking near the Lavington Mall at 6.00 pm.
Our burn began to attract Thompson’s gazelle, topi and a few zebra and certainly made predator sightings easier – at least three groups of lions were being seen.
One female elephant was found dead on the 25th along the edge of the riverine forest near River Camp. Hyena had fed extensively on the carcass and there was no apparent cause of death. The tusks were intact.
In February we had an 80% increase in the number of Non-Resident visitors to the Triangle over February 2015. The March figures are not out yet but we can expect March to be better than last year as well. We can only hope that the terrorist attacks in Belgium do not scare off travellers.
A total of 29 poachers were arrested in March and 57 wire snares recovered. As expected at this time of year, much of the poaching is centred on hippo and several were killed along the Mara River. Some arrests were made but two groups managed to escape
The Iseiya team arrested 8 poachers on the 1st along the Bologonja River in the Northern Serengeti. In the first incident the rangers came across four people carrying loads of fish – they had poisoned pools with a combination of acaricide and a traditional plant along the Bologonja and killed hundreds of fish. As they were leaving they came across another group of poachers and managed to arrest four more people – they had killed two impala. 20 wire snares were recovered.
The Iseiya team crossed the river again the next day and managed to arrest three more people carrying meat in the Wogga Kuria hills. They had finished hunting and were on their way home. They also came across another, fresh poachers’ camp but the people had seen them and escaped – people had only just arrived in that camp and had not started hunting. A total of 12 wire snares were recovered.
The Iseiya rangers arrested four more people who were hunting hippo near Mara Bridge on the 4th, they were caught along the GSU lugga on the Narok side of the River, just upstream from Purungat. The poachers were first seen by Narok rangers who were guiding MaMaSe (Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative) researchers along the river bank at 4.30 pm. They alerted our staff at Purungat, who in turn called the rangers from Iseiya. Anna, one of our dogs, followed the tracks a considerable distance and located two people in a small thicket. The other two were found by another section of the patrol. Seven spears were recovered.
A combined team arrested one more person on the 6th at Ol Donyo Nasipa, on the Kenya/Tanzania border. He was part of a group who were on their way to hunt hippo on the Mara River.
On the 8th a routine patrol found signs of poaching activity along the Mara River, near Kisumu Ndogo. The following day a patrol found 12 cattle at Daraja la Mzee in the Lemai Wedge. These cattle had been stolen from Mugumo on the 7th but there was no sign of the thieves.
We received a donation of a FLIR thermal imaging camera for use by the rangers when on patrol at night from the World Wide Funds for Nature (WWF). This camera has been set up for use on a vehicle and we look forward to our first success in using it.
A patrol by the Iseiya rangers on the 12th came across poachers along the Bologonja River and arrested two people – they had been fishing, but there were signs of recent poaching everywhere. The rangers then ambushed Ngira, on the other side of the River downstream from Kogatende and were on their way back to Iseiya when they saw torch lights near Daraja Mbili – they spent hours trying to catch up with the poachers and managed to arrest one person at 3.00 am. They found six Thompson’s gazelle that had been killed.
The Ngiro-are rangers joined up with two rangers from Kinyangaga and arrested two people cutting grass in the Lemai Wedge on the 13th, at 5.30 pm.
On the 14th, the rangers patrolled along both sides the Mara River towards Musiara. They saw at least 10 poachers hunting hippo on the Narok side of the river but somehow the poachers all eluded arrest.
Our rangers left at 3.00 am on the 18th and set an ambush on the route to Kigonga. They saw poacher activity near Miungu and arrested three people at 6.00 am, as the poachers returned home. The rangers reported that there were probably 50 people hunting that night and they only managed to apprehend one of numerous groups.
The rangers arrested three people along the Bologonja River on the 23rd. The three were caught fishing but also had 20 wire snares with them and were undoubtedly also hunting. Two more people were arrested on the 25th by a combined Ngiro-are/TANAPA patrol near Lempise in the Lemai Wedge, they were carrying five snares.
Our security teams joined up to patrol along the Mara River on the 28th, they patrolled the Triangle section of the River and were to be joined by Narok rangers. Our rangers had completed their patrol before the Narok rangers arrived. The Narok rangers found a poachers’ camp downstream from Governors’ on their side of the river but were unable to arrest anyone – they had killed and butchered two hippo.
Revenue and Accounts
February revenue was virtually double the amount received in February 2015. We had nearly twice as many Non-Resident Adult (NRA) visitors in February this year – 3,032 against 1,658 in 2015. This is the fifth month in a row when revenue has improved over last year. A recovery? We can only hope so, and that it is sustained. However, we are now in low season and can’t expect much before July.
Deloitte completed the Audit and a draft should be presented in early April.
Repairs and maintenance
We re-thatched all the thatch roofs at Ngiro-are and then moved to Purungat, where we did the same.
We completed grading the worst sections on the road to Ngiro-are and then worked on the main Serena to Oloololo road.
We tried burning a block between the BBC lugga and Purungat on the 18th. It was still too green to get a good burn and then rained in the afternoon – putting out the fire. We also managed to burn some areas over the following two days and were able to burn most of the intended area.
A tree fell on the dog kennels at Ngiro-are, causing some damage.
The engine on one of our Land Rovers overheated and had to be completely overhauled – the driver responsible was given a written warning.
Report on focus for March
Focus for April 2016
· Hold Board meeting on the 22nd in the Mara;
· Hold advanced driving course for drivers;
· Continue with road repairs;
· Hold meeting with community on compensation;
· Work with NC on Management Plan;
· Work on Management Agreement; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.