There was rain for most days in the first three weeks of November, filling up most of the water courses and pans. There was a change in the weather towards the end of the month, with a week of beautiful sunny days and clear nights.
There was an aircraft accident at Ol Kiombo, just on the Narok side of the Mara River on the 28th November. One of the pilots was killed and five of the 17 passengers seriously injured. It appears that the aircraft had engine failure soon after taking off from Musiara and the pilot crash-landed about 3 kms short of the Ol Kiombo airstrip. On the same day a terrorist bomb exploded at the coast, killing 15 people.
It appears that one cheetah has lost one of her three cubs; she has recently been seen with two cubs. There were unverified reports that the cub was killed by lion. The female filmed by the BBC with three cubs and one with four cubs continue to be seen to be seen almost daily, although the BBC cheetah is now on the Tanzanian border.
One pride of 10 lions has been seen around the salt-lick. It is made up of 6 females, one yearling female and three cubs of about three months old. The lion population seems to be very unstable, with frequent sightings of individual females and males. There are only two prides seen on a regular basis and prides that were stable a few months ago seem to have split up and moved. This instability seems to be the reason for a very high cub mortality this year. There appears to be only two yearling cubs surviving from at least twenty cubs born in this year. One lion was reported with a snare around its neck on the 30th, Dr Kashmiri has been contacted and will come up on the 2nd December. There is one other lion that appears to have a dislocated hind leg – this will also be looked at.
The wildebeest started migrating back into the Serengeti at the start of the rains and by the 20th there were virtually no wildebeest remaining in the Mara. There are a number of zebra herds and it will be interesting to see if they remain.
The young bull elephant with an injured leg was seen once on the Tanzanian border – it has not been seen since. One elephant was reported poached in the Lemai Wedge, in Tanzania, during the month, the first for many years.
M/s Kaplan and Stratton have quoted for a review of various documents given to the Board for review. They have been given the go ahead to review and comment on any potential legal issues relating to these documents.
Members of the Mara Conservancy reviewed quotes for auditing the 2001/2 accounts on the 18th. Six applicants were reviewed and M/s Deloitte and Touche selected to undertake this work. It is hoped that the audit will be complete by the end of this year.
The Conservancy provided one team and vehicle for the Mara Count, held between 9 –16th November. The results of this count will be available at the end of December.
The Senior Warden attended the World Travel Market in London from the 10 – 15th November at the Masai Mara desk together with senior officers of the Council.
Ms Doreen Nasieku Pussy is persisting with her claim for Ksh 7.8 million for the Management Agreement. There will be a court hearing on the issue on 4th December.
Tourist numbers were well down on October, as expected. We hope that the terrorist bomb near Mombasa and plane accident in the Mara will not have a negative impact but we can expect a drop in tourism for the next season. We have already heard that all Israeli tourists have cancelled – this certainly affects Serena as they had a number of bookings through Geo Safaris.
M/s Blue Sky Film agents are filming a short commercial for a Thai milk product in the Triangle – we are trying to develop a relationship with Blue Sky and hope to host another commercial in early 2003.
A second sitting was held for the KPSGA Bronze award at Mara Serena and eight people passed. A further exam will be held in January 2003.
Mr Alan Dixson of Lets Go Travel in Nairobi, who visited the Mara in October, has written a very positive article in Travel News about the Mara Conservancy. We thank Mr Dixson for his kind words and hope that other members of the tourism sector will be able to promote the Conservancy.
Mr Alistair Addison, Group General Manager for Serena Hotels and Lodges has said that he will visit the Reserve in December to look at potential camp sites. He has been given a copy of the tourism development plan for review prior to his visit to the Mara.
M/s Ker & Downey have expressed an interest in bringing safaris into the Triangle, we hope that we will be in a position to accommodate professional safaris in the next season – June 2003.
We are printing 4,000 new brochures for distribution; the original 5,000 have all been used. It is interesting to note that not one visitor contacted us for more information as a result of the original brochures.
A total of 30 arrests were made during the month, bringing the total to 162. Sixty-nine snares were recovered, bringing the total recovered to over 900.
On the night of 2nd November the Earthview Tent was broken into and US$ 160 together with Ksh 15,000 stolen. On the same night the thieves broke a window on the Chief Executive’s vehicle at the airstrip and stole some books and spanners. A week later some of the books, together with a bow and arrows were recovered near Mlima Mbili, between Mara Serena and the escarpment. We arrested two suspects with one round of ammunition and continue to follow up on some leads. The theft was almost certainly carried out by an ex-employee of Mara Serena’s who had threatened to return and rob the lodge. This information had been passed onto the police in August.
On the 2nd the Ngiro-are rangers teamed up with their counterparts from Kinyangaga in Tanzania and arrested seven poachers along the escarpment in Tanzania. They recovered 40 wire snares, 5 spears and 28 poisoned arrows. This group had killed 8 wildebeest and 4 zebra. The same evening the combined team arrested a further three poachers as they returned to their village. The team recovered 16 snares.
On the 6th the combined team from Ngiro-are and Kinyangaga arrested a further seven poachers in the Lemai Wedge, near Daraja Mbili.
On the 7th one other poacher was arrested by the Ngiro-are team in Tanzania. 2 spears were recovered.
On the 14th one of the Community scouts arrested a Luo for trespass in the Reserve. This person is a well known poacher who had eluded arrest in October after he had killed a waterbuck.
On the 17th one poacher out of a group of three was arrested downstream from Mara Bridge and on the 19th a further eight poachers were arrested in the same area. The 8 came from two separate groups totalling ten people, two managed to escape. They had killed two wildebeest and one impala. Six snares were recovered.
On the 28th 10 snares were recovered and on the 29th a further seven found, both sets of snares had been abandoned some time before.
S Kortom started one month’s leave from the 29th November.
B Heath took four days off in November and plans to take at least two weeks off in December.
We received a kind donation from Ker & Downey Safaris of two used guides tents for the Chief Executive’s camp. These tents are slightly bigger than the CE’s own tents and are much appreciated.
A draft Annual Work Plan has been prepared for circulation to the Board for approval, this plan was prepared by each of the section heads and represented a first attempt to make senior staff responsible for their own planning and implementation.
The building has been completed at Mara Bridge and the carpenter has moved to Kichwa Tembo too complete the ceilings in Council housing used by Conservancy staff.
Three young travelers have volunteered to re-wire the Council staff houses at Mara Serena – the existing wiring is extremely dangerous, with many exposed connections and overloaded lines.
The dry weather has enabled us to touch up damaged parts on the roads, the road to Oloololo gate has been repaired and work is ongoing on the road to Mara Bridge.
Revenue and Accounts
There is already some impact from the bomb near Mombasa, with 30—40 cancellations at Mara Serena. This will make a difficult six months even more difficult and lead to even tighter financial controls.
M/s Deloiitte & Touche are expected to start the Audit in early January.
Report on focus for October
Focus for December
Complete re-wiring staff housing at Serena
Complete ceilings in Council houses at Kichwa Tembo
Complete road repairs
Work with Auditors to complete the annual audit for 2001/2
Work with Serena on tourism development
Print and circulate brochures
Circulate Annual Work Plan and solicit comment