We had heavy and localised storms between the 1st and 16th and then widespread storms again in the last week of the month.
Mr James Robertson visited the Conservancy from the 30th until the 2nd May in his capacity as Director. We managed to show him many of the things going on in the Conservancy and hold important discussions on the situation in the Mara.
The Chief Executive met with the new Clerk to the County Council, Mr E Mutambuki, on the 4th.
The Chief of General Staff for the Sudan, together with senior Kenyan Generals and other officers stayed at Mara Serena on the 17th and 18th and we provided their security.
The case instituted by Ms Doreen Nasieku Pussy against the Mara Conservancy for fees relating to the preparation of the Management Agreement is finally closed. Ms Pussy lost her appeal in the High Court on the 13th May. In 2003 Ms Pussy had claimed over Ksh 7 million in legal fees, we refused to pay, having paid against her original fee note of Ksh 260,000. She went to court and the judgement went against her; she then appealed and the case has just been dismissed, with charges by the High Court.
The Senior Warden attended a Masai Mara Management Association meeting on the 20th.
We were visited by the new Clerk and Chairman to the Council on the 21st, they were shown around the Triangle by senior staff and saw Mara Bridge, Oloololo Gate and Ngiro-are.
Mr P Siampei met with the District Roads Engineer, Kilgoris. The Ministry of Roads are planning on upgrading the Oloololo – Mara Bridge Road to all weather, starting October as part of their Roads 2000 programme. We are also trying to get Siampei on a roads maintenance course later in the year. This would enable us to maintain the road with government funding in future.
The Chief Executive met with some consultants, headed by Dr M Nicholson, evaluating the WWF Mara River basin programme. There was a general perception that the tourist industry, and in particular the camps and lodges, do not take sufficient interest in the Mara River and I agreed to try and set up a meeting between WWF and the lodge managers in the Triangle.
The lioness with emaciated cubs lost a second cub towards the end of May. The continual rain and resultant long grass has made game viewing very difficult, there are small concentrations near Mara Bridge and below Mara Serena.
We started staff appraisals on the 19th with senior staff, they in turn have started on their juniors. Mr D Sikawa spent a week in Kilgoris, on a computer course to familiarise him on Word and Excel.
10 Security staff went to Kilgoris on the 25th, to prepare for the Madaraka Day parade on June 1st.
The Chief Executive took 4 days off in May.
Little Governor’s camp is scheduled to re-open at the beginning of June. Mara Serena has had an excellent low season and will close the month with an occupancy rate of over 60%; largely thanks to Kobo Safaris and another set of groups that are traveling from Cape to Cairo.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in May
Eight wa Kuria poachers were arrested during the month, four of them in the Triangle, near Mara Serena. This brings the total arrested to 399.
One of our rangers was knocked over by a buffalo whilst on routine patrol along the river, fortunately he was not hurt. This is the second incident in a month, last month a ranger’s rifle was hit by a buffalo as it went past. Buffalo have now become very common and now pose a threat when patrolling thickets.
One poacher was arrested on the night of 12th by the Serena team between Masanja and Nyanguki in Tanzania. The poacher was one of a group of six who were hunting Thompson’s gazelle with torches and dogs. They had killed 3 gazelle by the time he was apprehended.
The following night, at 11.30 pm the Ngiro-are team arrested one poacher, also hunting gazelle with dogs near Limana in Tanzania. The group had killed two gazelle.
One wa Kuria poacher was arrested on the night of the 18th, in a joint patrol between the Tanzanians, Serena and Ngiro-are teams. The Ngiro-are team had found 10 wire snares, one of which had killed a zebra in a routine patrol during the day. They mobilised the other teams and set an ambush. Two people came to check their snares at 8.00 pm and walked into the ambush – unfortunately one escaped. A further eight wire snares were recovered the following day.
On poacher was arrested on the 22nd in the Limana area in Tanzania in joint patrol with our Tanzanian counterparts. He was one of a group of five who were hunting with dogs.
Four wa Kuria poachers, from a group of five, were arrested on the 23rd ,on the hill chosen for the proposed new Headquarters near the Mara Serena airstrip, by a combined operation with Ngiro-are. They had been discovered during a routine patrol by the Serena team. The five had arrived early that morning, intending to cross the Mara River; they found the river too high and were unable to cross. The group were armed with spears and accompanied by dogs and intended to hunt warthog. Each member of the group had been arrested before and one of them had been arrested in the Triangle on two previous occasions.
We have had a major problem with vehicles and equipment this month and will have to overhaul the second Land Rover engine. This now means that both land Rover pick-ups have overhauled engines. We had to purchase a new turbo-charger for KAN 706K at Ksh 200,000. The tractor draw-bar broke, meaning that we are unable to undertake any trailer work until we get a new draw bar. We broke a bracket holding the blade on the grader and have ordered a new one at over ksh 230,000.
We re-thatched the uniports at Mara Bridge and will do the same to four uniports at Serena.
We graded the Serena airstrip and cleaned out all the drainage, the airstrip is now in excellent condition.
We have started cutting grass tracks and spent an afternoon with a Serena driver to show us exactly which tracks they would like cut. We will do the same with Kichwa Tembo drivers in early June.
The walls on the store at Serena have been completed, we will complete the ring beam and roof in early June.
Serena started constructing a shelter at the airstrip but work stopped when Air Kenya pilots complained that the construction was too close to the parking area. The shelter will be moved back about 20 feet.
Revenue and Accounts
Revenue for April dropped by 15% on April last year, this is the first month in a year that revenue has dropped below any corresponding period in the last four years. This was partly attributed to the fact that Little Governor’s was closed.
Vehicle and machinery expenditure was considerably higher than budgeted. The engine overhaul on KAN 706K ended up costing over Ksh 400,000 and we can expect a similar expense on KAN 707K. Having spent so much on these two vehicles we are considering retaining them for up to a year.
Report on focus for May
Focus for June
· Complete store;
· Continue cutting grass tracks;
· Hold Board meeting on 10th;
· Grade roads, weather permitting;
· Complete staff appraisals and issue contracts;
· Complete ToR for Earthview Audit
· Burn one block, weather permitting; and
· Follow up on VAT and Tax exemption