The rains started at the beginning of the month with daily showers, they then petered out and November was, on the whole, dry with beautiful sunny days. In fact November was probably the hottest and driest month in the Triangle since the Conservancy started operating in 2001. It would appear that the short rains will be well below normal throughout the country. These are the most reliable rains in most areas of northern and eastern Kenya. The virtual failure will mean widespread crop failure with massive famine relief requirements. In the Mara we are already being put under pressure by illegal grazers and the situation will not improve until we receive expected rains in December and January.
M/s Triad Architects, our landlords for the Nairobi Office, increased the office rent from Ksh 27,000 per month to Ksh 45,000 per month. The matter was discussed at our Board meeting and it was agreed that we try and negotiate the price down to Ksh 40,000 per month. This was done and Triad have agreed to our requested rate.
We held a series of meeting with the community and local administration on insecurity in and around Kawai and it was resolved that the Chiefs would evict a number of known undesirables and loiterers from Kawai and a village known as Kisumu Ndogo, near Olonana Camp by the end of November.
The Chief Executive met with Dr Malte Sommerlatte on the 28th to discuss his facilitating work on a ten year management plan.
The Chief Executive met with Mr George Orr of Earthview on the 29th to discuss commissions and contractual issues.
The referendum on 21st November overwhelmingly rejected the draft constitution and led to the President sacking the whole cabinet. A new cabinet will be appointed in early December.
The majority of wildebeest started moving South with the onset of the light rain at the beginning of November. However, several large herds remained along the escarpment, in the south-western corner near Ngiro-are and around the salt lick. There have been huge concentrations around the salt-lick over the past two weeks. Two prides of lions have taken up residence in the swamp and ambush animals as the come down to drink.
The cheetah with cubs lost them early in the month. We have seen fewer cheetah in the Triangle this year than at any time since the Conservancy started operating. This is partly because the cheetah concentrated on the open plains in the Lemai Wedge in the Serengeti between February and May and then never returned into the Triangle. At present we are only seeing four males and one female on a regular basis.
There was a lioness with cubs along the same ridge and it is assumed that she found and killed the cheetah cubs. The lioness with three small cubs near Mara Bridge lost of her cubs to buffalo on the 14th. Three buffalo bulls had been seen close to the lions all day and in the evening they were seen to charge and attack a bush in which the cubs were hidden. The lioness was seen to be carrying to dead cub soon after.
There have been reports of zebra deaths on the escarpment, a least six were reported in a one week period. We have requested that the community inform us a any recent deaths so that we can take samples. Ms Asuka Takita, a recently qualified veterinarian has volunteered to look into the problem with these zebra and is due to arrive at the beginning of December for a week.
The Chief Executive took five days off from the 15th.
Mr E Nkoitoi took is annual leave in November and is due to return in mid-December.
We held a pre-wedding fundraising for Ms Jane Kipas on the 30th and raised approximately Ksh 180,000.
Mara Serena continued to run at over 90% occupancy for November and the prognosis for the next six months is for sustained high levels of occupancy.
One client from Mara Serena died of a heart attack on the 24th. The body was flown out the same day. Our condolences to the family.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in November
A total of 8 poachers were arrested during the month. This brings the total arrests to 471 since June 2001. 192 wire snares were recovered during the month.
146 wire snares were recovered by the Ngiro-are team on the 2nd. They had all been set between the escarpment and the Ngiro-are swamp in Tanzania. 6 wildebeest were saved from the snares and one died.
Two wa Kuria poachers were arrested by the Ngiro-are team on the 3rd at Nyakita Pembe in Tanzania. Five of them had arrived that morning and had .not started hunting. Five wire snares were recovered
The Serena team arrested one poacher, out of a group pf four, on the night of the 4th at 10.30. They had just killed a wildebeest in a snare and were in the process of butchering it when accosted. Four wire snares were recovered.
One wa Kuria poacher was arrested on the morning of the 7th, at 6.00 am. He was leaving the Serengeti after hunting. Five wire snares were recovered.
One a Kuria poacher was arrested on the night of the 5th by the Serena team well into Tanzania, beyond Nyakita Pembe at about 11.00 pm. Three wire snares were recovered and one wildebeest found dead in a snare, two other wildebeest were rescued.
Two tents at Kichwa Tembo were robbed on the night of the 13th. The thieves broke in whilst the guests were having dinner and stole clothing and a few other personal items. We brought in a dog from Mugie Ranch to follow the thieves and the tracks were lost in a Masai homestead. There was no proof linking anyone in the homestead to the robbery and we subsequently heard that three strangers had been seen in the area the previous day.
One poacher was arrested on the night of the 17th by the Ngiro-are team at 7.20 pm; one spear and one sword were recovered.
Two wa Kuria poachers were arrested by the Ngiro-are team on the night of the 19th. This followed finding 6 wire snares during a routine patrol and setting an ambush in the area. Four wildebeest were found in the snares and one of them released.
23 wire snares were recovered from along the escarpment by the Ngiro-are team on the 24th.
We completed the staff canteen and kitchen at Serena.
We tiled the staff toilets at Serena.
We modified the workshop/store at our Serena offices and put in an inspection pit for vehicles.
The grader completed all the drainage in preparation for the rains.
The tractor was awaiting a spare brake cylinder for the whole month. In the end we imported the spare directly from England and fitted it on the 30th. The fact that the tractor was not working for the whole month halted a lot of the ongoing projects and meant that we were not able to murram sections as we had hoped.
We re-covered all the office chairs in the Warden’s office and Oloololo Gate and repaired all canvas covers for the vehicles.
Mara Serena have completed their toilet and rest area at the Serena Airstrip and it was commissioned towards the end of November.
Revenue and Accounts
The following table summarises income and expenditure for the period June through September. As can be seen from the table, actual revenue was up by 7% on budget and expenditure was down by a similar amount. This places us in a reasonably healthy position to see us through the low season and maintain a balance in the event that we do not sign a new management agreement and have to make staff redundant on the expiry of our current agreement in June 2006.
Report on focus for November
Focus for December
· Use tractor to murram bad sections;
· Service grader in preparation for next season;
· Earthview Audit;
· Receive and circulate 1994/5 Audit;
· Plan for developing 10 year management plan;