There was a lot of rain throughout November, filling all the watercourses and flooding parts of the Triangle. The Mara River rose to levels not seen since December 2006, almost flooding the Purungat Gate House.
We hosted two people from Clemson University in the United States on the 5th. Dr Lawrence Allen had been here before and they were visiting at the Governor’s invitation to help develop an implementation programme for the Management Plan. The Chief Executive then joined the Executive Committee member for Tourism and the Chief Officer for Tourism in the County and visited Mara Engai Camp to evaluate their road down the escarpment.
A donor paid for 2,500 trees and 2,000 of them were planted near the Partikilat School by our staff and the community – 500 will be planted by the donor when he comes out later in the year. Anne Kent-Taylor has donated wire to fence in the trees.
Narok County will be hosting an Investment Forum on the 3rd and 4th December at Mara Serena – the event will actually take place near the Lodge and will involve a number of potential investors in Narok County. This will be aimed at highlighting investment opportunities outside tourism and focus on the agricultural, infrastructure, education and health potential in Narok.
Mr Andres Bafani from Location Africa Films has produced a book entitled “Postcards from the Mara Triangle” – a coffee table book on the Mara Triangle. We have taken 40 copies to sell at the gates. It is a beautiful book which showcases the diversity of wildlife and scenery that makes the Mara Triangle so special.
Warden D Bett left on the 1st to join the County. He lost his wife a few months ago and wanted to be able to spend more time close to his family.
Three people were suspended for three months for fighting.
The Chief Executive took two weeks off during November and went to Mahale, in Tanzania, and then Kiwaiyu.
The wildebeest all moved out at the onset of the rains and most of the zebra also moved, some of the zebra crossed and a few others have remained, unable to cross with the river is so high.
One elephant was found dead on the 9th and the tusks recovered – it appears that it died from natural causes. It had a large calf and the calf joined a herd. The elephant herds have returned to the Triangle, as they tend to do in the rains.
Lion sightings have been excellent and there are a number of prides with young cubs. Cheetah sightings have been good but some of the best leopard areas have been cut off by the rains, and very high river levels.
Kenya has recently hosted a number of very high profile visitors, the last being Pope Francis in November. This undoubtedly has an impact on Kenya’s image overseas and will hopefully counteract much of the negative publicity Kenya gets from the foreign press. The terrorist attack in France in November also highlights the fact that no country is immune from terrorism and even the most sophisticated intelligence and security agencies can not halt attacks.
The decline in visitor numbers seems to be levelling off, hopefully we will now see a turn around as agents start marketing Kenya again. However, we can’t expect any significant improvement for a year or two.
Despite numerous warnings about El Niño, many of our drivers are very unprepared. We have had one car stall in the middle of a flooded watercourse and drivers getting stuck without any equipment, or towropes. All vehicles operating in the Mara should at least have spades, hoes and towropes for the rainy season and drivers should be more aware of the dangers of driving off road when it is so wet. Not only does off-road driving cause considerable environmental damage but ploughing through miles of mud is very hard on vehicles.
A total of 21 poachers were arrested during September and 55 snares recovered. We can now expect poaching to focus on the concentration of animals around Masanja – just across the border – we have already arrested three groups operating in this area. We can then expect them to concentrate on warthog and hippo when it is moonlight and Thompson’s gazelle when dark. This is the time we can also expect incursions into the Triangle, especially along the river and around Nyumba Nane.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have pledged some thermal imaging equipment that will greatly assist us in our night-time operations – even on the darkest nights.
Four people were arrested on the 2nd in two separate operations. In the first, one person was arrested during the day near Daraja la Mzee, he had six snares with him. That evening three more people were arrested near Maji ya Bett, they were carrying spears and machetes. The following day our rangers recovered two more snares near Konyoike but found where a buffalo, and eland and several wildebeest had been butchered a few days before.
Our rangers arrested seven poachers along one of the tributaries to the Bologonja stream on the 6th. The rangers came across one camp and managed to arrest four, of eight people, and stumbled upon another camp with three people; all three were arrested. More than eight wildebeest and one ostrich had been killed and butchered. The poachers had also found the ostrich nest and had taken some of the eggs. Fifteen wire snares were recovered.
Nine people were arrested for illegal grazing and cutting trees in the Triangle – they were taken to Lolgorien and prosecuted.
Two people were arrested on the 22nd by a combined patrol near Masanja, in the Lemai Wedge; two escaped. Four snares were recovered. Two days later the Ngiro-are rangers arrested two more people near Lugga ya Ngiri. Four escaped, they were hunting with spears and dogs.
The Iseiya rangers arrested three people between Masanja and Watu Kumi on the 28th at around 10.00 am. The poachers had killed two zebra and a warthog; 21 snares were recovered. The following day a combined team patrolled that same area and found another poachers’ camp and managed to arrest three more people and recover 11 snares. The poachers had not yet killed anything but the rangers did find a second camp, just vacated, in which there were several butchered carcasses.
Revenue and Accounts
Revenue was up on 2014 for the second month in a row, by 11% in October. This can be attributed to exchange rate gains, rather than any real increase in the number of overseas visitors.
Narok County have approved some changes in the fee structure:
- They have differentiated between County and non-County residents and set a new fee of Ksh 800 for County residents;
- Non-County citizens will be charged Ksh 1,200;
- East African residents will be charged Ksh 2,000;
- Vehicle fees will also change to Ksh 500 for capacity of less than five passengers and Ksh 1,200 for more than five passengers; and
- Annual balloon licences increase from Ksh 100,000 to 200,000;
The new rates are yet to be implemented.
Repairs and maintenance
We spent time on repairing toilets, basins and the solar system at Ngiro-are.
Angama and Mara West have agreed to install a barrier on their road down the escarpment to control entry into the Triangle. This is a temporary measure, until the boundary is surveyed and the County determines the number of roads that will be allowed into the Reserve.
We worked on an all-weather access road for Skyship and they have agreed to pay Ksh 500,000 towards to cost. We are concerned that this road will provide another route of access into the Triangle and have insisted that the barriers be locked at all times.
We have tried to patch sections of the main roads that have been damaged by the exceptionally heavy rains. Fortunately, the work done in preparation of the rains has helped and we have managed to contain most of the damage.
We have started installing new signs on some of the junctions.
We have been replacing worn bushes and wear-strips on the grader in preparation for the next dry season.
Report on focus for November
Focus for December 2015
· Host County Investment Forum on 3rd & 4th
· Complete Annual Audit;
· Complete installing new signs;
· Continue with basic road maintenance;
· Sell one Land Rover; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.