There were a few days of reasonable, but isolated, rain from the 9th, mainly along the escarpment. It was sufficient to send the wildebeest back and by the 16thmost of the wildebeest had gone, leaving a few isolated herds. Many of them returned later in the month. There was more rain on the 29th, until the end of the month, whether this will be sufficient to send the wildebeest back into Tanzania remains to be seen.
We were visited by three Members of the County Assembly (MCA) on the 2nd. The three; M/s Mibei and Seme represent Angata and Lolgorien Wards and Ms Kirui is a nominated MCA from Angata. They requested assistance with employment, education, forestry and water.
David Attenborough was in the Mara for a few days around the 8th. He is making a film of his life, chronicling the loss of biodiversity in his lifetime, but also looking at the positive efforts to sustain grasslands, forests, wetlands, oceans, even agriculture. The migration was concentrated in the Mara Triangle and so they did a few days filming here. The film crew are also making an eight-part series for Netflix on different ecological habitats – ours is grasslands, scheduled for viewing in August 2019.
The Chief Executive met with the President, together with Governor Tunai and Mr K ole Kijabe on the 22ndto discuss management of the Main Reserve. We received the President’s support for the Mara Conservancy managing the Reserve.
We had a visit from members of the Judiciary in Kilgoris on the 23rd. They are planning a trip to the Triangle for their whole team on the 4thNovember. We will use the opportunity to brief them on our work.
We held a Board meeting on the 29that which the Audited accounts were approved and signed. There were one or two queries on deferred tax and a provision for bad debt but on the whole the Board commended the audit. The Board also discussed the number of non-paying visitors and it was agreed that all visitors to the Triangle must have valid tickets. This has implications for the balloon operators, who have been flying clients from outside the Reserve without any form of recognised ticket.
Warden Daniel Kijabe was married on the 6thin the wedding of the year. It was a huge wedding with over 5,000 guests and attended by the President.
Mr Liaram Molai took 2 weeks unpaid leave to deal with personal matters.
Ms Josephine Naitipa had a baby boy on the 22nd, but on the same day Mr Rolex Naitipa sadly lost his wife after a miscarriage and subsequent complications.
The Narok County Government are doing an audit and headcount on their staff and County Service Commission sent a team to train 14 of our staff on how to fill in a questionnaire for each member of staff. The forms need to be filled in and returned before the 16thNovember.
Morani is still recovering from his operation and won’t be working for another two months.
We had large concentrations of wildebeest for a few weeks at the beginning of the month and, as usual, they moved off as soon as it started raining, but then remained all along the border in large numbers. It dried off for a while and suddenly there were large crossings from below Lookout Hill into the Triangle from the 22nd. The wildebeest remained along the Tanzanian border for the rest of the month.
A cheetah with two small cubs has started moving with them near Nyarukunguri, near the border. We had suspected that she had cubs, this is the first time she has been seen.
Two giraffe died when they were fighting near Oloololo gate, this is the first time we have seen something like this happen. They must have banged their heads together too hard and both died on the spot.
Dr Amanda Subalusky and Chris Dutton returned to the Triangle after a year to continue their research of the Mara River. They have recently produced two papers:
Organic matter and nutrient inputs from large wildlife influence ecosystem function in the Mara River, Africa. A L. Subalusky, C L. Dutton, L Njoroge, E J. Rosi and D M. Post. Awaiting publication
Context dependency of animal resource subsidies. A L. Subalusky and D M. Post (2018). Biological Reviews, Cambridge Philosophical Society.
Ms Emily Madsen has installed 50 camera traps as part of her project for WWF’s Biome Health Project. She will be looking for some of the more cryptic and seldom seen animals and will remove the cameras in November.
One of our resident Lodge drivers hit a hippo at night and overturned the vehicle; the second time this vehicle has had an accident in less than a month.
We are proposing a fairly radical change to our fee structure for the Triangle. The proposal has been approved by the Board and been sent to the County Government for review and gazettement. Essentially, we want to retain the Triangle as a premium destination, worthy of the high bed-night fees paid by most of our partner camps. We are also proposing different high season/low season rates and high rates for exclusive privileges.
We continue to have problems with efforts to circumvent paying Park Fees. One camp tried transferring tickets– they are not transferrable. Another pays by the day and then tries to get into the Reserve without valid tickets, saying that they will buy at the airstrip.
A tent burnt down on the night of the 22ndat Mara Engai, they suspect it was caused by an electrical fault. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
A total of 45 people were arrested for poaching in October, all of them in the Serengeti. We collected 640 snares, the majority in the last few days, as there were large concentrations of wildebeest in the Lemai Wedge. Ten wildebeest and one zebra were rescued, five were found dead in snares and a further 15, together with one zebra, had been butchered.
Two people were arrested on the 1st. The Iseiya team arrested one, of two people as they were setting snares along Lugga ya Ngiri. Seven snares were recovered and one wildebeest rescued. That night the Nigro-are team left very early in the morning and managed to arrest one person on the Masanga poachers’ route as he and his two companions headed home at 5.00 am. They had killed and butchered one wildebeest.
Some of our Iseiya rangers joined forces with their TANAPA counterparts on the 2ndto patrol between the Wogga Kuria hills and Binamu in the Northern Serengeti but found no activity. That night they set up an ambush between the Kobo camp and Nyamburi. The area came alive with poacher activity soon after dark and by 8.00 pm at least three groups of about 30 poachers were active. By midnight our rangers had arrested six people, but not before five wildebeest had been killed and butchered. They continued until dawn and managed to arrest one more person. On the same day, another of our patrol teams from Iseiya managed to arrest two people near Kokamange and recover 10 snares during the day. The Nigro-are rangers recovered 28 snares along the escarpment and rescued one zebra. The following day they recovered another 29 snares along the escarpment.
On the 5ththe Iseiya team patrolled the Lemai wedge and collected 10 snares, they rescued one zebra. Their Nigro-are counterparts recovered three snares and found where one zebra had been butchered. That night all our rangers, joined forces with two patrol teams in Lemai and arrested nine more people across the river an area called Serengeti Ndogo. Many of these poachers were in their teens and early 20s and not that experienced at evading arrest. One of our rangers was cut on the hand whilst apprehending a poacher.
The Iseiya team crossed the river and joined forces with their Tanzanian counterparts from Lemai and an anti-poaching team that is temporarily based at Kogatende on the evening of the 7th. They set up an ambush at Nyamburi and managed to arrest three people. We lost one of our hand-held Flircameras when the rangers were chasing poachers but found it two days later.
Twenty five snares were recovered on the 8thand one wildebeest rescued along the escarpment. A further 25 were collected the following day between Lempise and Limana in the Lemai Wedge. Our Iseiya rangers joined forces with their TANAPA counterparts and set up an ambush at Nyamburi. Three people were arrested between 8.30 pm and 1.00 am. The next night two more people were arrested, this time by the Nigro-are rangers and their Kinyangaga neighbors. The two were part of a group of six in an area called Mbali Mbali in the Northern Serengeti.
We continue to catch a lot of poachers in the Northern Serengeti and six more were caught by a combined Conservancy/TANAPA/TAWA (Tanzanian Wildlife) team on the 11thnight in an area called Serengeti Ndogo. They were in two different groups, two were arrested in the first group and four from the second. The same day, the 11th, our rangers had collected a total of 41 snares all along the escarpment towards Lemai, one wildebeest was rescued.
Three more arrests were made by a combined Nigro-are and TANAPA patrol on the night of the 12that Mbali Mbali. That day the rangers had recovered 13 snares and rescued 2 wildebeest. The Ol Kurruk rangers reported a speared zebra on the escarpment but did to apprehend anyone.
Five more snares were recovered over the next two days and then on the 16tha further eight snares were found near Kasarani, one wildebeest was rescued. That night the rangers set up an ambush near the Lemai airstrip and managed to arrest two people at 11.00 pm.
Thirty two more snares were recovered on the 17th, eight along the escarpment and 24 near Limana in the Lemai Wedge. Two wildebeest were rescued, two were dead and one had been butchered. One zebra had been killed at Ngos – between Kawai and Lolgorien. Our rangers searched but were unable to locate the culprits.
One more arrest was made on the 18thnight, between Nigro-are and Kinyangaga, his companion escaped. These two have been setting snares on the escarpment for a long time and it was good to finally apprehend one of them. They had seven snares, a further 19 had been recovered during the day. Seventy more snares were recovered over the next three days along the escarpment, 60 in one day. One wildebeest was rescued.
Two people were arrested at 3.00 am on the morning of the 25thalong Lugga ya Ngiri by a combined team.. They had spears and bows and arrows but denied poaching for meat, they said that they had been looking for gemstones and were on their way home.
Six snares were recovered along the escarpment on the 25thand then on the 26tha further 73 were collected along the escarpment and around the Nigro-are swamp. One animal was rescued and three had been butchered. That night the rangers set up an ambush and managed to arrest one person at 1.30 am. He was part of a gang of three who were on their way to check snares.
One of our community scouts impounded six head of cattle that were grazing in the Triangle illegally on the 27th. He was threatened by two youth who were subsequently arrested and fined by the area Chief.
Our Tanzanian neighbors very sadly lost two rangers from the Lemai Station, when they drowned in the Mara River on the 28th. They had impounded a herd of cattle for illegal grazing and were driving them back to Lemai when they crossed the river in a deep pool, neither could swim and both drowned in the pool.
We continue to find snares in the Lemai Wedge and 37 were collected on the 29th, all along the escarpment and around Limana Ndogo. There are large concentrations of wildebeest in the Lemai Wedge, many of them keeping away from the escarpment. This has meant that the poachers are having to operate further into the Wedge to set their snares, and has also led to an increase in the number of snares being set – 192 were collected on the 30th; five animals were butchered and three were dead in snares. The rangers managed to arrest two youths on the 30th, aged 15 and 16. They were carrying nine snares but tried to say that they were looking for lost cattle.
Revenue and Accounts
We have finally resolved the issue with Governors Balloons and they started paying us as from 1stJuly, albeit in small amounts. This matter has been outstanding for 17 years.
As at September 30thwe had surpassed all visitor numbers for a complete year. To date we have had 115,575 people visit the Triangle. The previous high was in 2016, when we had 113,213 visitors for the whole year. Non-paying visitors in September were 8,565, or 55% of our total. When looking back over the years, the proportion of non-paying visitors has increased substantially it used to be in the 30-40% range five years ago. This matter needs to be redressed as soon as possible.
Table 2: Cash flow statement for the 1stquarter
See above for a summary of our income and expenditure for the first quarter. Our income was higher than expected for the first quarter, but we spent a lot more on allowances and security expenses than budgeted – our patrols were out every night. It paid off, we arrested a large number of people, 65 in September and 45 in October. We have virtually eliminated poaching in most parts of the Lemai Wedge and now operate as far afield as Tabora B in the Northern Serengeti. Little do the tens of thousands of visitors to the Northern Serengeti each year appreciate the huge contribution our rangers, and their collaboration with TANAPA, have made to their security and the wonderful game viewing experience they have. We must not forget that ten years ago there was not a single visitor to this area – too insecure. I would estimate that there are now well over 100,000 visitors a year – it rivals the main Reserve in camp density during the migration.
Repairs and maintenance
We graded the river road to Oloololo.
We started on a hanger for the new Bat-hawk aircraft.
We received a new Land Cruiser and sent it to Nairobi to have a body fitted. The vehicle should be ready for collection at the beginning of November.
We spent the month patching our roads to Nigro-are, towards Purungat and then Little Governors. The roads have held up remarkably well this year and credit must go to our road teams.
A new Bat-Hawk ultra-light aircraft arrived and a hanger built for it. Dr Asuka Takita bought it with donor funds, topped-up by the Conservancy. It came without a Transponder and Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) and these have now been fitted. This little aircraft will be ideal for patrolling the area and for doing game counts.
We fitted a gate into the staff camp at Iseiya.
Construction of the new stores is going well and they should be virtually complete by the end of November.
We put out a number of track closed signs, some of them were chewed by hyena within days, despite them being made of aluminium. We received new signs and hope to install them in November.
Report on focus for October
Focus for November 2018
· Complete stores;
· Finalise arrangements for management of the Main Reserve;
· Take 12 days leave from 12thNovember;
· Collect new Land Cruiser;
· Complete sale of old Land Cruiser;
· Continue with construction of new store;
· Complete hangar for new aircraft; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.