The first half of November was essentially dry, with a few scattered thunderstorms and showers. However, the situation changed dramatically in the last ten days of November. There were exceptionally heavy and widespread storms that that brought the Mara River down in spate and flooded most of the Triangle. These were certainly the heaviest rains experienced in the Mara during the past five years and probably were as heavy as the last el Ninõ rains in 1996-7. Most of the Reserve became impassable towards the end of the month and we spent most nights out on rescue missions for vehicles that had been stuck for hours. Most of the rescues were for resident vehicles within the Mara whose drivers should have known better.
The Chief Executive met with the Chairman and Trustees of the Nippon Keidanren Committee on Nature Conservation on the 15th. The Trustees paid a visit to the road works, using the sandbag technology and were most impressed with the demonstration section that had been completed. In the evening the Administrator and Chief Executive attended a dinner at Mpata Club and gave a short talk on the Mara Conservancy.
We hosted a Council meeting on the 17th, at which the Minister, Clerk and 22 of 25 Councillors attended. The group had lunch and then started the meeting at 2.30 pm. The Councillors deliberated on allowing new, high cost/low impact, camps into the Mara Triangle. No decisions were made and the matter was deferred to a full Council meeting to be held in the near future. The Councillors complimented the Conservancy on their good work. Two follow-up visits were made by Councillors and Council staff to familiarise themselves with the issues before they make a decision.
The Chief Executive met with Dr R Malpas and D Henson of CDC on the 27th to discuss the 10 year Management Plan. There had been a proposal by the African Wildlife Foundation to undertake a joint management plan with the Narok side of the Reserve and AWF were trying to raise funds for the joint plan. After some discussion it was felt that we should proceed with the planning process and get the Councils to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on common issues such as traversing, game viewing and park fees before proceeding with a joint plan. In the meantime the Conservancy will proceed with our 10 year Management Plan and invite Narok to sit in on some of the meetings as observers. The first meeting of the core planning team is scheduled for the 18th December.
Most of the wildebeest moved out of the Triangle at the beginning of November and by the 15th there were very few animals left. A large number of zebra and a few scattered groups of wildebeest remained until the end of the month. The animals wanted to move North but were stopped by the flooding Mara River.
One buffalo was shot in self-defense by the rangers after they were attacked whilst on patrol in the Serengeti on the 22nd.
One cheetah gave birth around the middle of the month, one cub was seen on the 28th and it was found dead on the 30th, probably because of the excessive rain and complete water-logging in the area where the cub was born.
The Chief Executive spent 15 days off during the month.
We ordered ceremonial uniforms for Council Rangers and they should be ready in time for the Independence Day celebrations.
The camps and lodges continue to be very busy, despite it being the low season. The exceptional rains at the end of the month made game viewing extremely difficult for most visitors, especially those with 2 wheel drive vehicles.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in November
A total of 29 poachers were arrested during the month; bringing the total to 740. Two of the poachers were young Kenyans fro Kisii who were seen hunting buffalo in the Triangle and arrested by police from Lolgorien and one arrest was made by the Anne Kent-Taylor group. Over 200 wire snares were recovered and the carcasses of 50-60 butchered animals found.
The OCS, Lolgorien arrested two Kisii poachers as they entered the Triangle along the escarpment the two had dogs and three spears and seemed intent on hunting one of the buffalo that frequent the escarpment. The OCS was on his way to Kinyangaga with local livestock owners to check on cattle that had been impounded in the Serengeti for illegal grazing – 34 cattle and 18 goats were identified as having been stolen from local Masai and Kipsigis livestock owners over the past six months. The fact that we were able to inspect these cattle was again a testament to the excellent relations developed between ourselves and the Tanzanians.
On the 8th the Ngiro-are team, in conjunction with their Tanzanian counterparts, arrested three wa Kuria poachers in a daytime patrol. The poachers were camped in Tanzania, in an area known as Nyamburi, and had killed one wildebeest. On the same day the Ngiro-are team arrested one poacher near Nyamburi, he was one of a group of three and they had killed two wildebeest. That evening a further two wa Kuria poachers were arrested at Nyamburi along the Mara River in Tanzania by a joint TANAPA, Serena and Ngiro-are team. On this one day a total of 159 wire snares were recovered and at least ten wildebeest poached.
On the 18th one, of two, wa Kuria poachers was arrested during a night patrol by the Serena and Ngiro-are teams near Kokamange in Tanzania. A number of wire snares were recovered. These poachers come into the Serengeti late at night, hunt and then return home before dawn and this person was arrested at 5.30 am.
One poacher, of two poachers, was arrested by the Ngiro-are team very early in the morning of the 19th by the Ngiro-are team near Kokamange. They had not killed anything.
On the 20th a combined Serena, Kinyangaga and Ngiro-are team arrested 6 wa Kuria poachers at Mlima Hoteli along the Mara River. The poachers had been spotted the previous day and a joint patrol organised on the morning of the 20th. All six poachers were arrested; there were about 40 wildebeest carcasses in the camp, some of them from previous poaching expeditions. Over 50 wire snares were recovered.
On the 22nd another joint patrol arrested six more poachers in the same area along the Mara River. They had arrived the previous morning and had killed four wildebeest – their intention was to camp for several more days and kill more animals before the migration moved southwards.
On the 26th the Oloololo team, in conjunction with the Anne Kent-Taylor scouts, arrested a young wa Kuria boy along the escarpment. He and his accomplices were hunting with 13 dogs and had one wire snare.
On the same day the Ngiro-are team arrested three, of eleven, wa Kuria poachers at Kokamange in the Serengeti at 5.00 am. The poachers had been hunting at night and were on their way home. They had killed four zebra; 30 wire snares were recovered. One further poacher was arrested by the Ngiro-are team on the same day near Nyakita Pembe in the Serenegeti, he had not killed anything, three wire snares were recovered.
On the same day again the Serena team arrested two poachers near Nyakita Pembe. The two poachers were on their way to meet up with another three wa Kuria who had been camping in the area. No animals had been killed and 2 wire snares were recovered.
Revenue and Accounts
The Chief Executive and Finance Manager met with the Auditor’s from Deloittes on the 2nd to introduce the Finance Manager and discuss one or two outstanding issues on the 2005/6 Audit. The Auditors have finalised the accounts and these will be circulated to the Board in early December.
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) approved a new frequency for our HF radio 7587 LSB. Our old frequency of 9314 was too high and meant that we were unable to communicate with Nairobi most of the time. This new frequency should enable us to cut down on phone calls between Nairobi and the Mara.
The Keidanren Trust paid out the first tranche of Ksh 613,000 towards the construction of the road along the river, enough to construct 100 metres. Work was finally stopped at the end of the month when the rains made the area impassable. We have enough ballast on site for approximately 150 metres and have ordered 10,000 sacks, enough for 500 metres. It will be very interesting to see how the demonstration section stands up to these rains.
The whole are is too wet for the tractors to operate and most tractor and vehicle work has been stopped until conditions dry out sufficiently.
The toilet block at Oloololo gate is virtually complete; we only remain with some plaster and plumbing work.
Report on focus for November
Focus for December
· Hold planning meeting for Management Plan;
· Complete toilet Block;
· Circulate audit report to Board;
· Continue with sandbagging, rain permitting;
· Repair roads as necessary;
· Celebrate arrest of > 700 poachers; and
· Continue ranger training.