We had a few days of heavy rain, starting the 16th, the weather then cleared up again and the remainder of the month was sunny and dry.
The Chief Executive met with WildlifeDirect to discuss the Blog on the 1st, they will send someone down in early December to assist us in setting it up properly.
Mr P Siampei ran into a hippo on the night of the 5th as he returned to Serena from Oloololo Gate in one of the Maruti Suzukis, Cheetah 2. The hippo was not injured but Siampei was hurt and flown to Nairobi that night by the Flying Doctors Service. The vehicle was extensively damaged and had to go to Nairobi for repair.
The grader was sold and collected on the 10th and the new one delivered on the 27th.
The Chief Executive met with Dr Hajime Matsuoka on the 11th to discuss progress on the sandbag road we are constructing along the river road. Dr Matsuoka designed the system and came to review our work. He has reduced the amount of ballast required which will considerably reduce the cost of constructio
We held a Board meeting on the 21st and approved the audited accounts for the period ending 31st May 2007.
We have revamped the Mara Conservancy web site with a new layout and photographs from professional photographers. We are most grateful to Michel Denis-Hout, James Warwick and Suzi Eszterhas for use of their stunning photographs.
The wildebeest moved in along the border and, to a lesser extent, around Oloololo and we ended up with more animals than at any time during the migration.
One male lion was reported with an injured leg on the 31st the KWS veterinarian based at Sekenani was called in to treat the animal on the 1st. The animal had a horn wound in the back leg and was treated.
Four rhino have been regularly seen in the Triangle. These are a male, the female with her five month old calf and the old female calf – now three and a half years old. There are recent reports that the older calf has been mated.
One zebra that had been injured in a snare was destroyed on the 9th.
There are at least a dozen crocodiles nesting along the river. This is their normal breeding period, and we can expect them to hatch in early December. Other seasonal breeders that have young at present include warthog, topi, Thompson’ gazelle, jackal and bat-eared foxes.
Four cheetah cubs left their mother in November and have taken up residence along the border; these cubs are 15-16 months old. Honey’s three male cubs returned to the Triangle after an absence of six months; they have filled out considerably and look extremely healthy.
A single colobus monkey was seen downstream from the salt-lick on two occasions. This is the first time a colobus has been seen in the Triangle and it is well outside it’s normal range.
We held an HIV/AIDS course for peer trainers for one week at the beginning of the month. Six of our staff were trained, as were three from Serena and one from TransWorld. We are grateful to Serena for their support in providing the conference room and food during the course.
The Chief Executive took ten days off in early November, the first significant amount of time off this year.
We sent a team of rangers to the Lewa Conservancy for 9 days, starting the 19th. Whilst the rangers were away we supplemented our security on the ground with six community scouts. This was a great success, with at least 13 poachers caught during that time, and we will do the same in future.
Camps and lodges continued to be busy until mid November, when visitor numbers dropped off. There will be a slight peak in visitor numbers over Christmas and New Year but we can’t expect any real improvement until February, when there is a short peak in tourist numbers.
Dr Cheryl and Mr Manny Mvula did a survey of resident drivers, as part of their Responsible Wildlife Viewing Project, in late October and have presented their findings to the respective camps and lodges. They have not made their findings public but expressed their overall opinion. On the whole they were very disappointed in the quality of guiding and in particular the disregard for park rules – especially in respect of off-road driving and animal harassment.
A total of 36 poachers were arrested during the month, the most in a single month since the Mara Conservancy started operating in June 2001. Three of the poachers were Kenyan and the remainder Tanzanian. A total of four poachers were caught in the Triangle and we noticed an upsurge in poaching along our borders. Five warthog, eight zebra, one wildebeest and a waterbuck are known to have been killed in the Triangle during the month. We have now arrested 958 poachers and recovered several thousand snares; over 300 were collected in November alone.
There was one armed robbery on the Narok side of the Reserve during the month. The thieves raided a camp downstream from Mara Serena, on the other side of the river, and stole expensive camera equipment. We were not informed until 24 hours after the incident.
Three wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 1st on the far side of the Mara River, between Sayari Camp and Mlima Hotel, by the Ngiro-are team.
One person was arrested on the 7th
On the 8th eight poachers were arrested by a combined Tanzanian and Conservancy operation at 11.00 pm. They were part of a group of 23 poachers who had come into the Kokamange area of the Lemai Wedge to hunt at night; 196 wire snares were recovered.
Three people were arrested on the night of the 10th, at 8.30 pm. A routine patrol during the day had found a stash of meat and an ambush was set up. The poachers were arrested as they returned to collect the meat. 30 wire snares were recovered and two wildebeest had been killed.
A combined Tanzanian/Ngiro-are operation arrested four wa Kuria poachers near Masanga in the Lemai Wedge on the night of the 11th at 8.30 pm. The poachers were on their way into the Serengeti to hunt and were apprehended before they had set their snares – 25 snares were recovered.
Three, of four, poachers were arrested in a night ambush across the river, near Mlima Hotel, at midnight by a combined Tanzanian and Conservancy operation. They were on their way to hunt wildebeest with dogs when arrested.
The Ngiro-are and Kinyangaga teams arrested one poacher near Kokamange on the evening of the 14th as he, and one other, were entering the Lemai Wedge to hunt. Two wire snares were recovered.
On the afternoon of the 19th one of community scouts (C6) reported that three poachers had entered the Reserve, between the two cattle trails, along the escarpment and were hunting a Buffalo. We immediately sent out two patrols, one inside the Reserve and one along the top of the escarpment. By 6.30 pm we had arrested three poachers; two, of three, inside the Triangle who had killed a warthog female and her young – this is the same group that had unsuccessfully hunted the buffalo; one from a different group of three who had killed three warthog. Both groups were hunting with dogs and spears.
Three wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the 23rd. In the first instance the Serena team arrested one, of two, people in the Triangle in a lugga below “Sierra Lima”, a ridge overlooking the Tanzanian border. They had killed a wildebeest and a zebra and had been in the Triangle for four days before being found. 9 wire snares were recovered. In the second incident the Ngiro-are team arrested two people along the Mara River, opposite Mlima Hotel, they were on their way into the Lemai Wedge to hunt and had not killed anything; 16 snares were recovered.
Two poachers were arrested by the Ngiro-are team on the 27th by the Ngiro-are team in an area known as Olare Nanyuki in the Lemai Wedge. They were entering the Serengeti at night to hunt and had not yet killed anything. Three wire snares were recovered.
Three youths were arrested at 7.30 pm on 28th as they entered the Lemai Wedge, just next to the Kinyangaga Ranger Post, by the Serena team. They were part of a group of seven, the four adults escaped – leaving the three youngsters, aged between 12-15.
Two, of six, poachers were arrested just below Kinyangaga by the Ngiro-are team on the night of the 29th. Again they were on their way into the Lemai Wedge to hunt and five wire snares were recovered.
A routine patrol between Kishanga and the Ngiro-are swamp on the 30th came across 20 wire snares and found four dead zebra and one dead waterbuck in the snares. The rangers set up an ambush that evening. No one came into the ambush but the rangers noticed possible poaching activity along the escarpment and mounted an operation very early the next morning.
Revenue and Accounts
The US$ has devalued considerably in the past month, from Ksh 66 to Ksh 61, a drop of 10%. This has profound implications on our cash flow over the next few months, but more importantly, on the whole tourism and export industries.
Our revenue continues to be slightly lower than for the corresponding period last year; October revenue was 4% lower than for October last year. This, coupled with the weak US$, means that we continue to struggle to meet our revenue targets for the year and has already meant that we will have to scrap a number of planned development projects for the year.
We received US$ 8,500 from the Keidenaren Trust for the “sandbag” road along the river. We have been led to believe that there are no more funds available this year for this project.
Our accounts for the first five months of the financial year indicated a 10% drop in total revenue against budget. Revenue was Ksh 57,832,016 – down from the amount budgeted of Ksh 63,833,332.
This can be explained as follows:
- We had budgeted Ksh 9,797,560 from Kichwa Tembo – this was not forthcoming
- Entrance and Park fees were down by 9%; from Ksh 48,987,800 to Ksh 44,354,392
- We sold the grader for Ksh 5,600,000 and one Suzuki for Ksh 300,000
- We received donations of 1,782,785
If we remove proceeds from the sale of assets our income is actually 23% lower than budget – a serious situation that will necessitate a number of cut backs, especially in development and capital purchases.
Direct costs were up by 10% - from Ksh 11,277,313 to Ksh 12,423,574
Running costs were up by 4% - from Ksh 30,690,328 to Ksh 31,786,696.
Finance charges were up 437% - from Ksh 483,333 to Ksh 2,593,795 (The result of exchange rate losses –we had budgeted on Ksh 68.5 to the US$ and in fact the US$ dropped to Ksh 66 in June and has remained there).
The result of this is that Nett income was down by 48% - from Ksh 21,382,358 to Ksh 11,027,851.
We have completed 250 meters of the “sandbag” road along the river. The process should move faster, now that Dr Matsuoka has advised us to reduce the amount of ballast.
We provided windows and doors, together with 10 bags of cement, courtesy of a donation of Ksh 160,000 from CMC Motors, to the Ongata Barrikoi Secondary School for their dining hall.
The new building at Serena is virtually complete and two Assistant Wardens will move in early December.
Work on the main road between Oloololo Gate and Mara Bridge seems to have stopped. The contractors responsible for the Serena Oloololo section dug up the road in several places, installed some culverts and then left, leaving the road closed in three places. The other contractor ran out of stockpiled murram and also left.
Report on focus for November
Focus for December
· Complete painting new houses;
· Push for work on main road to continue;
· Construct shelter over fuel pump;
· Celebrate arrest of >900 poachers;
· Work on Blog;
· Open culverts and drains on roads; and
· Continue with murram on river road.