We started receiving very heavy rain/hail storms on the 9th along the escarpment – the first significant rainstorms all year. The rains continued for the next two weeks – with some very heavy storms around Oloololo.
We had a small delegation of very senior staff, led by retired Ambassador Neamiah Rotich, from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) visit us on the 11th and 12th. They came to look at our revenue collecting, to see if there was anything in our collection and monitoring system that might be applicable to KWS.
We upgraded our Pastel accounting and stores packages, as well as the payroll system. We also tagged all our assets with permanent aluminium tags that will be linked to our assets register.
It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Mr Steve Fitzgerald on the 21st October. Steve founded Angama, one of the most prestigious camps in the Mara and had been involved in the Mara for a number of years previous to that. Our commiserations to his family and indeed the whole Angama family.
The Presidential elections were held on the 26th after weeks of uncertainty. Nairobi virtually closed down from the 25th – another wasted week, causing untold damage to the economy. Mr Raila Odinga refused to participate in the elections and advised all his supporters to boycott the election. Then on the evening before voting started he said that his coalition would now become a resistance movement. More political uncertainty by a leader who does not seem to have the interests of the Country at heart.
All our rangers have now received appointment letters from Narok County. The new appointees will be paid their basic salaries by the County as from November 2017. The Conservancy will continue to pay allowances and bonuses.
One female elephant was found near Sankuria on the 3rd, it died from natural causes. On the same day Dr Limo treated an elephant for a wound on the leg – it appears to be cancerous and the animal will probably not survive.
One elephant was found dead near Oldonyo Ol Paek on the 24th. It was an animal with a severed trunk – from a snare – and although the wound had healed the trunk was very short and had probably constrained its ability to feed.
On the same day a hippo killed a woman fetching firewood between SkyShip and the Olonana cultural villages.
There has been a definite drop in tourist numbers – usual for this time of year. It is difficult to gage, but the political situation and uncertainty about the Presidential elections have almost certainly contributed to the decline.
The tracking device fell off Naeku – our rhino so we will have to devise a better system for attaching the tag. The collar also fell off the young lion that was being tracked by the Mara Predator Project. The collar was recovered. This lion, together with is male companion, were seen mating towards the end of the month.
Anna returned with her puppies on the 10th. She had spent over a month in Nairobi, until both she and the pups were strong enough to return. Most of the puppies became very sick with suspected Babesia (a tick-borne disease) on the 25th. They were treated with Veriben (dimazine aceturate) and all reacted to the treatment, one had to be euthanized after it relapsed and did not react to further treatment with a steroid (Colvasone).
We arrested a total of 32 people for poaching during the month and also three people for being in the country illegally. Our rangers were also part of a team that arrested 31 people for charcoal burning in the Nyakweri forest. We collected 221 wire snares and rescued one zebra but found 15 animals that had been killed (5 zebra, 4 wildebeest, 1 elephant, 1 lion, 1 waterbuck, 1 topi, 1 impala and 1 hippo) all in the Serengeti. We have always worked on one animal caught for every ten snares set. This year was very different, far fewer animals were caught. This can probably be attributed to snares being found and collected very soon after they were set and the fact the we never had the huge concentrations of wildebeest in the western portion of the Lemai Wedge, as we do most years.
A total of 12,541 snares collected in the northern Serengeti in the two migration months, see Table below. We continue to find the majority of snares in the Lemai Wedge, concentrated on a narrow band along the escarpment. Most of the wildebeest poaching across the river is done with machetes.
Table 1: Total snares collected in July and August 2017
One person was arrested on the 30th September by the Ngiro-are team near Olaro Nyioke, along the escarpment. There was then no sign of poachers until the 4th, when five people were arrested; two by the Iseiya team near Mlima Hotel across the river. They had killed and butchered one topi and one impala and one wildebeest and were drying the meat. The Ngiro-are patrolled the escarpment and managed to arrest three more people – they had killed a waterbuck. A total of 30 snares were recovered.
Our rangers patrolled the Wogga Kuria on the 6th and arrested three people who had killed and butchered two wildebeest, they were about to start on a zebra. A total of 50 wire snares were collected and two zebra had been butchered.
The rangers found where a hippo had been killed and butchered near the Island below the Singita camp in the Lemai Wedge – the meat had been taken. Two snares were found and one zebra was dead in a snare. The Ngiro-are rangers crossed the river and patrolled the Wogga Kuria hills, they arrested two, of three, people. They had killed one wildebeest and one zebra.
Six more people were arrested on the 8th. The rangers left in the morning, joined their counterparts from Lemai and Kinyangaga and patrolled the far side of the Wagga Kuria hills. They first saw signs in an area called Binamu – a lion had been caught in a snare and butchered, as had a wildebeest – they were drying the lion meat with the wildebeest meat. 21 snares were recovered. The rangers arrested both poachers. They then waited and set an ambush in the same area – they started seeing activity as soon as it became dark and watched a large group with the Flir camera. The Iseiya team managed to arrest three, of sixteen people, all hunting with machetes (they use them to cut an animal’s spine when they drive them into a steep watercourse and the animals start milling around). Two of the poachers were very aggressive and one tried to snatch a gun off Cpl M Moguche – he was very lucky not to have been shot. The Ngiro-are rangers were a short distance away and managed to arrest one other person with nine snares. The next day they collected another 21 snares.
Our teams joined forces with their TANAPA counterparts from Lemai and Kinyangaga on the 10th and patrolled the Ngira area – they saw nothing during the day, apart from some recently vacated camps. However, soon after dark they began to see activity and watched four people approach through the Flir camera. They managed to arrest two people at 7.45 pm with machetes as they came to hunt. The next night three more people were arrested by our teams, with rangers from Lemai and Kinyangaga, when they set an ambush at Ngira. The poachers were first seen by the Iseiya Flir before they moved out of range and were then picked up by the Ngiro-are camera. They were hunting with machetes but had not killed anything.
Five snares were recovered near Nyakita Pembe on the 14th, one of them had caught a cow – duly released. The following day the rangers patrolled the Lemai Wedge and found nothing. That evening they set an ambush between Kichwa Tembo and Tabora B in the northern Serengeti and managed to arrest two people – they were on their way to hunt with machetes.
On the 16th our rangers from Kilo 2 were asked to help deal with a security incident at Isokon, on the escarpment. Three people, all Tanzanians, were arrested.
An ambush was set along Lugga ya Ngiri on the 19th and one person arrested. He and three others were on their way to hunt with dogs.
Some of our rangers joined an operation to deal with destruction of the Nyakweri forest. It was supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and overseen by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). A total of 31 people were arrested and a number of charcoal kilns destroyed. It was felt that details of the operation were leaked in advance and many more people could have been arrested.
A total of 57 wire snares were collected by both teams on the 22nd and then another 50 were collected the following day – all the snares were in the Lemai Wedge – between Limana, Lempise and Kichwa ya Ndovu. One zebra was rescued.
A total of six people were arrested on the 24th and 25th. The Ngiro-are team set an ambush on the 24th near an area known as Mama Kent across the river in the northern Serengeti. They saw three people and managed to arrest all three with fishing line and hooks. This was after patrolling the Lemai Wedge all day and recovering 13 snares. The following day the Iseiya and Ngiro-are teams found six snares and then the Iseiya team set an ambush near Lugga ya Ngiri, in the Lemai Wedge. They managed to arrest three, of four people, using the hand held Flir cameras.
A routine patrol in the norther Serengeti came across a freshly poached elephant, tusks removed, near Maji Machafu and alerted their TANAPA counterparts from Lemai.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person on the night of the 28th – they watched two people approach near Kichwa ya Ndovu by using the thermal imaging camera and managed to arrest one of them. He was carrying seven snares.
Revenue and Accounts
Our revenue for September was almost identical to the amount collected in September 2016. The migration leaving early, and election jitters almost certainly contributed to the 6% (6,140 in 2016 to 5,781 in 2017) drop in non-resident visitor numbers in the same period.
Table 2: Cash flow statement for the first quarter July 1st to September 30th
Our management accounts for the first quarter of the 2017/18 financial year show a significant increase in revenue over budget for July, to a lesser extent in August. September was as budgeted (see paragraph above). Expenditure was 24% over budget, largely because we spent a lot on upgrading staff housing to cater for the additional staff we took on last year. This is almost complete and we don’t anticipate much more expenditure on housing for the remainder of the year.
Repairs and maintenance
We sold our Case back/hoe loader for Ksh 3.2 million and it was collected on the 13th. Our new JCB machine was fully paid for on the 16th and delivered on the 24th .
We graded a section of the road to Purungat and also to Mara Bridge.
We collected our new Land Cruiser and will try and find a buyer for the Land Rover – this vehicle has given us nothing but trouble and we can’t expect much for it. We have also set up the new Land Cruiser with a Flir thermal imaging camera.
We collected the accident Maruti after nearly two years – it has finally been repaired and we are selling one of the older vehicles. The one we intend to sell is badly corroded from the saline water at Iseiya and it won’t sell for much.
We made a new track to bypass Kampi ya Mungu. The original track went through the camp and vehicle movements were causing problems for campers.
We completed a new toilet block at Iseiya for staff.
The new staff housing is virtually complete, as is the kitchen at Kilo 2.
Report on focus for October
Focus for November 2017
· Install signs along the border;
· Start roofing on uni-huts;
· Sell one Land Rover and one Maruti;
· Paint new staff housing;
· Complete kitchen at Kilo 2;
· Build a mess area at Kilo 2;
· All rangers to be paid by County; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.