The month was on the whole dry with one or two isolated storms during the month. There has been considerable build up of cloud towards the end of September and we can expect rains in early October.
There are 22 cheetah reported in the Triangle at present; three females each with three cubs 4, 5 and 6 months old respectively. There are two females each with two almost adult cubs, one with a single cub and two known males. One of young cheetah cubs injured it’s shoulder but seems to be recovering. The BBC and three other professional photographers have all been trying to film and photograph the same cheetah throughout the month. The photographers each vie for the best positions and this has led to complaints by photographers against each other. We hope that this situation has been resolved by talking to the photographers.
One leopard is reported to have cubs below Mara Serena, it was seen on two or three occasions during the month.
The resident rhino returned in the middle of the month, apparently having been mated on the 18-19th of August. One male was reported to have followed her across the river but returned after two or three days. There was a second report of the male trying to cross into the Triangle on the 29th September.
The migration is reportedly the best for many years, indeed the wildebeest and zebra numbers in the Triangle continue to increase daily and long serving staff members say they have never seen so many wildebeest in the Triangle. One female wildebeest was seen with a satellite collar near Mlima Mbili on the 29th September. Lion sightings continue to be disappointing, part of the problem may be that tourist vehicles tend to concentrate in one small area between Mlima Mbili and the escarpment – tourists can see cheetah and lion with ease and there is no incentive to explore further afield.
A staff member from Kichwa Tembo was killed by a buffalo on the evening of the 11th, when he went to look at his cattle, he was not reported missing until the morning of the 14th, when his body was found in a thicket upstream from Kichwa on the Sabaringo lugga. The buffalo was located and shot, he was an old bull with an infection in the horns.
The Chief Executive met with the Clerks to Narok and Trans Mara County Councils on Sunday the 15th at Voyager Lodge. A number of issues were discussed, including reimbursement for Narok tickets redeemed in Trans Mara. The Chief Executive followed up with a letter as requested and we are awaiting feed-back. Mr Ole Kaiyoni, the Clerk to Narok, invited the Mara Conservancy and County Council of Trans Mara to join Narok in a stand they have taken at the World Travel Market in London in November. Unfortunately the Clerk Narok missed a second meeting scheduled for the 28th at Olonana.
The Chief Executive met with Ms Helen Gibbons of Friends of Conservation (FOC) in Nairobi and discussed the possibility of working together in community development.
The Chief Executive met with Mr David Watson on two occasions to discuss the production of a Mara Triangle map that can be used both for management and tourist purposes.
We have installed Stanbic’s Computer Access Terminal (CAT) system so that we can access account records and transfer funds between accounts from the Chief Executive’s computer in the Nairobi office, in time we will also be able to make payments through the system.
The Board meeting scheduled for September was postponed, to give directors more time to study and comment on documents requiring Board approval. To date no written comments have been received.
Most of the lodges continued to be full throughout September and the prognosis for the first half of October looks good. Revenue for August was down on last year, this was surprising and explained by the revenue collector by increased sales of tickets in July for August clients. The sooner we can link revenue to activities the better.
The general standard of driver behaviour has been high and there have been very few complaints of animal harassment. One ranger accompanies the Big Cat Diary film crews and reports any problems.
One vehicle overturned in the Reserve on the 29th September, the vehicle belongs to a staff member at Kichwa Tembo, who had come to a church service at Serena. He was obviously over speeding.
Problems between Ol Choro-orua and Koyaki over traversing rights highlighted some of the inequities in the current traversing rights arrangements and seems set to continue for some time; or until small units of land recognise that the majority of game drives are done outside their boundaries. As a result of clients from Mara safari Club and Mara Buffalo being harassed by Koyaki staff they spent most of the month doing their game drives in the Triangle. Currently most of the clients from Mara River Camp, and a good proportion of the clients from Mara Buffalo and Mara Safari Club are doing their game drives in the Triangle. This has caused some problems as the Mara Safari Club radio frequency interferes with the Mara Conservancy frequency when in the Triangle.
We have received approval from the police to re-arm the rangers once their registration as Kenya Police Reservists is complete. As soon as this is done we can proceed with GSU training. The Chief Executive met with the Officer Commanding Kilgoris Police Division (OCPD) who was most complementary on the improved standards of security and staff discipline in the Triangle.
A total of 26 arrests were made during the month, bringing the total to 127 since the Conservancy took over.
On the 10th a routine patrol found a group of five wa Kuria at the Saltlick, they had split into two groups, the first of three were at a strategic vantage point, where they had a good view of the roads and the second group were in one of the valleys leading into the swamp. They had arrived the night before, at 3.00 am, and had set 30 snares – no animals were caught. The Tanzanians joined us in the operation and three people were arrested – two of them after they had crawled through the long grass for nearly one kilometre.
On the 11th we joined the Tanzanians on a patrol at Msanja, one group of two were located and both arrested. They had killed one wildebeest and dried the meat. When we checked the 8 snares one other wildebeest was caught and had a broken leg. One of the 2 poachers had an old but expensive pair of binoculars – possibly stolen from tourists in the early 90’s. A further line of snares was found near Daraja Mbili in Tanzania, two wildebeest had been caught, one dead and another with a broken leg. We were unable to locate the poachers.
On the 14th one person was found and arrested at the Salt lick, he appeared to be simple and we were unable to get any information from him.
On the 21st 6 wa Kuria poachers were arrested in Tanzania in a joint operation along the Mara River. The poachers had been hunting for several days and had killed several wildebeest and zebra. 30 snares, poisoned arrows and spears were recovered.
On the night of the 23rd five we Kuria came into the Salt lick area. All five were located the following morning and arrested in a joint operation with the Tanzanians. No animals had been killed and 6 snares recovered, this group said that their main mode of hunting was to ambush animals as they came down to water and spear them, rather than snare them. On the night of the 24th the Ngiro-are team linked up with the Tanzanians and arrested another two poachers along the escarpment in Tanzania.
One of the Community scouts reported that two groups of Morans, one of ten and one of eight, were heading for the Triangle to spear lion. Two security details were immediately mobilised, one to go to the top of the escarpment and one to check along the bottom. The group of eight morans were encountered at the top and warned. However, morans continue to light fires along the escarpment and on two occasions were seen from the air. The Directors from the area have been asked to assist in stopping unnecessary fire lighting and to warn the morans against lion killing.
On the 25th three groups of poachers were encountered in a joint patrol with the Tanzanians between Daraja Mbili and the Mara River in Tanzania. Two groups, each of three, were arrested before they had been able to hunt. One person in the third group of two was also arrested, bringing the total for the day to seven. The third group had been hunting for several days and had killed a wildebeest and eland. 33 snares were recovered, bringing the total number of snares recovered to about 800.
A party was held at Ngiro-are on the 29th to celebrate catching our first 100 poachers, our Tanzanian counterparts from Lemai, Kokatende and Kinyangaga camps were invited and attended.
Mr Patrick Siparo and the Senior Warden have been tasked to develop a Terms of Secondment for Council staff to the Mara Conservancy, one meeting in Kilgoris was aborted and has now been set for the 2nd October. The Chief Executive has drawn up the proposed Terms and given them to the Clerk as a basis for discussion.
Mr Siparo has been given a one month extension to his contract in order to complete his Terms of Reference.
There were delays in completing the balance sheet, mainly caused by delays in reconciling revenue. However Mr Jaswinder Soin will have a copy of a draft balance sheet for discussion with the Chief Executive by the 3rd October.
We have implemented the new Council rates for staff seconded to the Mara Conservancy. This has increased staff salaries by approximately 50%. We have also paid the majority of arrears, calculated on the difference between the new Council rates and the rates paid by the Conservancy, this amounted to in excess of Ksh 700,000. If we factor in a 10% increase for the Conservancy this will bring the bill to over Ksh 1 million.
The Chief Executive managed to take four days off in September.
Serena Lodge only approved the provision of 2,000 litres of fuel for the Mara Bridge to Keekorok road, well below their verbal commitment to provide all fuel and maintenance costs for the grader. This means that the project has been cancelled. The Siana Trust has offered to pay up to Ksh 1.4 million to grade 22 kms of road in their area. This is on hold, pending a Board decision on hiring out the grader.
The grader and road gang have cleaned out most of the culverts and drainage ditches, in anticipation of the rains in October and November.
No further work has been done on the temporary office at Mara Bridge, we are awaiting sufficient orders to justify a vehicle going to Nairobi before proceeding.
The Uniports at Little Governor’s have been thatched and two uniports erected at Ngiro-are.
We completed stone tables and natural log benches at three popular picnic sites near Mara Bridge, they are very popular with drivers and tourists.
A few more signs have been placed, including one at Mara Bridge welcoming visitors to the Mara Triangle.
No further work has been done on the rifle range.
We installed toilet tents at two camp-sites near Serena at the beginning of September. The camp-sites at Serena have been very popular and were occupied most nights. Two potential camp sites have been cleared, one will be shown to the Managing Director of Serena Hotels and Lodges in October for possible development by Serena.
Revenue and Accounts
Earthview reported balloon revenue for March to June for Musiara. This amount was paid in Kenya shillings to the County Council of Trans Mara and the Mara Conservancy and revenue collector’s share deducted from August’s disbursement. TransWorld were reported to have paid until June.
We will continue to suffer severe cash flow problems for the remainder of this financial year, the situation will ease slightly once we pay for the vehicles. This situation has been exacerbated by the salary increases awarded by the Government to County Council staff and the fact that the award is retroactive to January 2002. Attached is a financial report for the period June to August 2002, with projected expenditures and income for the remainder of the year.
Report on focus for September
Focus for October
- Finalise terms of secondment for staff
- Hold Board meeting to ratify documents
- Complete work at Mara Bridge
- Hold KPSGA Bronze level exam at Mara Serena
- Hold lodge managers’ meeting on 10th October at Olonana
- Purchase new uniforms for staff, one set each
- Continue follow-up on Narok tickets
- Possibly prepare for WTM in London
- Complete draft maps of the Mara Triangle
- Repair council staff housing at Kichwa Tembo used by Conservancy staff
- Continue follow-up on training by GSU