The first three weeks of October were dry – we then had heavy rain for a few days. It would appear that the rains are starting reasonably early this year, usually an indication that wew are in for heavy and sustained rains.
Mr Joe Hussein, a new shareholder in Abercrombie and Kent, spent four days in the Triangle from the 5th. He also looked at the possibility of investing along the escarpment.
The Chief Executive and Mr S Tunai met with Mr N ole Kamuaro on the 5th to discuss a short term consultancy on the distribution of group ranch funds.
Prince Amyn Aga Kahn visited Mara Serena, together with M Janmohammed and A Addison for a few hours on the 18th to look at possible renovations to the lodge. There is a possibility that the lodge will be closed for two months in April and May 2005 if the renovations are to take place.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Atsuhiro Yoshinaka, Deputy permanent representative to UNEP and Habitat and based in the Japanese Embassy. We discussed possible funding support for projects and will follow up on two possible sources of funds.
The ILRI research team have mapped out a series of transects and identified hundreds of young Balanites trees. We have burnt three parts of their study area so that they can observe tree damage and regeneration. They will also monitor wildlife movement onto the burnt areas and try and determine other factors affecting the lack of immature Balanites. One of the students will be studying buffalo behaviour and may also try and collect physiological data. We are awaiting her proposal before determining the practicality of collecting, blood, urine, faeces and ticks from buffalo males.
The wildebeest all moved out of the Triangle at the beginning of October, following the heavy rain in late September. However, many of them returned and there are still tens of thousands in the Triangle, mainly concentrated along the Oloololo escarpment and along the Mara River, between Serena and Mara Bridge.
On the 17th Dr Kashmiri came up to remove a snare from a giraffe near Little Governor’s camp. On the same day we saw three buffalo with severe swellings on the legs and neck, one buffalo was darted and the abscess lanced. Dr Kashmiri returned on the 25th to dart and treat the other two buffalo – one had an abscess and the other a large growth on the neck.
One cheetah was reported to have given birth to five cubs behind the Serena airstrip – the cheetah was being disturbed by vehicles and we have asked the drivers to avoid the area until the cubs are stronger. One other cheetah that had three young cubs appears to have lost one of her cubs.
There are fewer Thompson’s gazelle this year than in the recent past – many of them have rough coats and show signs of scouring – it is possible that they are carrying exceptionally heavy worm burdens.
One lion was reported to have had cubs between the salt lick and the Tanzanian Border.
The camps and lodges were full for most of October – extending an already excellent season. There appears to have been a drop in tourist numbers in other parts of the Mara but this has not been the case in the Triangle and the prognosis for November looks good with 60 - 70% occupancy being forecast.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in October
A total of 15 wa Kuria poachers were arrested in Tanzania by our patrols. There were no known incidents of poaching in the Triangle. 282 wire snares were recovered. 27 wildebeest, 1 zebra, 1 buffalo and one eland were known to have been killed; 2 wildebeest and 2 zebra were removed from snares. We have arrested 340 poachers to date.
One wa Kuria Poacher was arrested on the first near the lower of two bridges making up Daraja Mbili in Tanzania. He was an elderly man who hunted alone, the second such person arrested in the past two months. He had been hunting for many years and this was his first arrest, he was well known by the wa Kuria as an individual hunter and had set seven wire snares; he had not caught anything. On the same patrol we came across another three wire snares and a place where people had hunted the previous night, killing five wildebeest.
On the night of the second our patrols returned to the same area, lower Daraja Mbili to Nyakita Pembe and arrested two more poachers. They had 10 wire snares and had killed one wildebeest. Four people escaped.
On the fifth a patrol in the same area arrested two wa Kuria poachers, they had 16 wire snares but had not killed anything. That night an all night patrol came across significant poaching activity and followed a group of ten poachers for several hours before arresting one person. 36 wire snares were recovered and one wildebeest removed from a snare.
On the 8th two wa Kuria poachers were arrested by the Serena/Hammerkop team below near the Mara River in Tanzania. He poachers had arrived the previous night and had set up 44 wire snares and had caught one wildebeest. Two people escaped.
On the 9th two wa Kuria poachers were arrested by the Serena team and a further two were arrested by the Ngiro-are team. The Serena team arrested their two below the lower of the two bridges known as Daraja Mbili in Tanzania, in the same area as they had arrested people the previous day. They found 5 wire snares, one of which had caught a zebra – it was released. They had arrived the previous day and no other animals had been caught. The Ngiro-are team acted on information and arrested their two people in the Ngiro-are swamp in Tanzania, one person escaped. They had killed one wildebeest. 8 wire snares were recovered.
On the 11th 6 wire snares were recovered in Tanzania, near the Ngiro-are swamp, no animals had been caught. On the 14th a further 3 snares were recovered by a joint patrol from Mara Serena and Mara Bridge near Nyakita Pembe in Tanzania.
On the 15th the Ngiro-are team joined forces with our Tanzanian counterparts and found 18 wire snares, one wildebeest was found caught in a snare but it subsequently died. They set up an ambush that night but no one returned.
On the 16th one wa Kuria poacher was arrested by the Serena team near Nyakita Pembe in Tanzania at about 6.30 pm. He was with one other person who escaped arrest; they had been in the area for four days and were packing up to leave. They had dried meat from four wildebeest and 16 wire snares. A combined Ngiro-are and Tanzanian team found 18 wire snares, saved one zebra and one wildebeest but one other zebra was found dead.
On the 17th a joint night patrol with Serena, Ngiro-are and Tanzanian rangers arrested four poachers after midnight. There were at least 30 poachers in the gang and 42 wire snares were recovered. In the short time between the poachers setting their snares and their arrest 14 wildebeest had been killed and were being butchered. A further 14 wire snares had been found by the Ngiro-are team between the swamp and Konyoike in Tanzania during the day, and one wildebeest killed.
A total of 39 wire snares were recovered on the 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 25th , 30th and 31st in Tanzania by the Ngiro-are and Serena teams. One buffalo was found killed by poachers in the swamp on the 25th and one eland found dead in a snare on the 31st by the Serena team.
We recruited Mr Aile Lekakwar as mechanic to replace Lucas Marenka who left at the end of August on a three month probationary contract. He has many years experience and will be able to maintain our vehicles to a high standard.
The Chief Executive took four days off in October and will take 12 days off from the 8th November.
The grader worked on the road along the escarpment and on some of the short roads down to the river prior to be stopped for the season. A major service is being carried out by Mantrac, the agents. We are servicing the tandems and replacing all seals, the turbo-charger will be replaced as will be the exhaust. The blade and circle will also be overhauled. We estimate that this work will cost in excess of Ksh 500,000 but it should mean that the grader is in very good working condition for the next season
We started work on the mess area for staff at Ngiro-are. The tractor hitch broke on the 30th, whilst carrying stone for the building – slightly injuring some of the staff. Fortunately no one was seriously injured.
The road team have been collecting sand, ballast and rocks for Ngiro-are but they also filled in pot holes along the main road.
Our Land Rover pick-ups are beginning to cost an exorbitant amount to keep on the road, with monthly spare part bills well in excess of Ksh 150,000. We propose selling the vehicle with highest mileage and replacing it with either a Land Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser.
Revenue and Accounts
The auditors completed their field work in the 19th and we are now awaiting their report. Revenue continues to be higher than at any time since the Conservancy started operations and we have managed to clear many of the outstanding bills and set aside US$ 50,000 to cover the expected shortfall in the off season.
Report on focus for October
Focus for November
- Meet with Mr N Pavitt and discuss his joining the Board;
- Complete work on the grader, also carry out major service on the tractor;
- Finalise audit;
- Finalise annual work plan and circulate to Directors;
- Re-introduce lodge manager’s meetings;
- Complete mess area and kitchen at Ngiro-are; and
- Order new vehicle to replace KAN 706K