There were scattered storms and showers over most of the Mara for the first three weeks of the month, it then dried out.
Mr Abdi Boru, the new Senior Warden posted to the Triangle visited the Reserve on the 3rd September, he was due to report on the 11th but has not done so to date. He is now set to report on the 1st October.
The Chief Executive met with Ms Helen Gibbons of FOC on the 4th September. She was accompanied by two members of DFID who were looking at potential for community development projects in the Mara region.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Muhamud Janmohammed, CEO of the Serena Group, on the 7th and discussed a number of issues relating to the development of the Triangle. It was agreed that there should be a follow-up meeting with Mr Janmohammed in Nairobi.
Dr Mark Nicholson, an expert in reforestation and indigenous forests, visited the Triangle and we went to Angat Barrikoi to review the potential for reforestation using indigenous trees. Dr Nicholson will return in November to run a course and bring seedlings.
Members of the Board met on the 15th September in the CMC boardroom in Nairobi. It was agreed that the Chief Executive maintain contact with Mr Martin Forster rather than with the Chairman of the Board as Mr Forster is based in Nairobi.
The village at Oloololo was dismantled by security forces on the morning of the 21st September and people re-located at Kawai village on the escarpment. Unfortunately the exercise led to the wounding of a Police Inspector and the death of one of the villagers. The situation is now calm and has not disrupted tourism. People are beginning to return and collect their possessions from Oloololo and one or two are building at Kawai.
Mr David Watson has sent a draft map of the Mara Triangle for proof reading, our comments have been incorporated in the final proof and the map sent to South Africa for printing.
Ms Leslie Roach visited us on the 27-28th September. We took her up to the escarpment where we met with one of the landowners, Mr Farrah. Mr Farrah has 1,200 acres of land along the escarpment and is willing to lease it on the condition that it is used for conservation. Preliminary discussions were encouraging and there is a possibility that the land could be leased for five years initially.
Mr A P Davies has resigned as Company Secretary.
A one-year old cheetah cub died on the night of the 5th September towards the Tanzanian border. This cub had appeared listless the evening before and would not follow his mother and brother when they tried to move – they kept returning to the cub. The following morning the cub was found dead with a very swollen neck and lower jaw. We did a post mortem and took samples for analysis. The initial observation was that the cub had probably been bitten by a snake. However, the post mortem showed severe gelatinous oedema on the neck, a very swollen and degenerate spleen and the laboratory report showed Theileria or Leishmania type organisms in the blood and spleen samples. We are awaiting further information on the cause of death.
The migration concentrated in the Narok side of the Reserve for a good part of the month but started moving into the Triangle in the last ten days. The wildebeest and zebra crossing into the Triangle below Mara Serena in large numbers every day and then moving straight down towards Tanzania, where they are currently concentrated on both sides of the border. Large numbers of wildebeest have drowned, partly because of crossing in unsuitable places as a result of vehicle pressure at the crossing.
One buffalo bull died of natural causes near the public campsite at Serena.
One lioness was reported to have cubs in a lugga behind the Serena airstrip, they are very difficult to see.
Tourist numbers picked up on those projected for the month, with the lodges doing very good business during the weekends but tailing off slightly during the week. Overall we can expect 70-75% occupancy for the month. This is considerably better than many of the camps and lodges in the Mara – Mara River Camp and Voyager have both closed and Mara Safari Lodge has been experiencing 30-50% occupancy. There is no doubt that the Triangle is doing better than the rest of the Mara, partly because of better marketing by the lodges but also because the Triangle is now known to have better infrastructure and security.
The number of American travellers to Kenya has declined considerably as a result of the travel advisories and this is beginning to impact next year’s tourism projections. The Government and tourist industry are looking at non-traditional markets and we will be hosting a Thai princess and her entourage at Mara Serena as part of a promotional campaign by Kenya Airways and the Kenya Tourism Board from 30th September to 2nd October.
The BBC Big Cat Diary did not film in the Triangle this year; they operated from Musiara on the Narok side of the river. However, we are hosting a BBC team filming a short clip of Masai warriors as a filler before news programmes.
Use of the resident and public camp sites has increased considerably this year and we can expect even more utilisation next year.
Nine poachers were arrested during the month, bringing the total to 231. 34 wire snares were also removed.
On the 13th four poachers were arrested at Konyoike about one kilometre into Tanzania. They had arrived the previous night and were preparing to set snares that evening. We just missed one large group of about thirty poachers who had set forty or fifty snares the previous night, catching at least six wildebeest – this group had come down the escarpment and returned the same night. Four wire snares, 2 bows and arrows and knives were recovered.
On the night of the 19th we laid an ambush near Konyoike and observed poacher activity about three kilometres from the ambush site. We conducted a foot patrol which resulted in the arrest of two poachers out of a group of five at 11.30 pm. They were hunting with dogs and no snares were recovered; no animals had been killed.
On the 21st four snares were seen in a routine patrol along the border, the site was ambushed that night but no one came to check on them. The snares were removed.
On the 23rd four snares were seen in a routine patrol near Nyanguki in Tanzania and a further 20 snares found near the Ngiro-Are lugga. Both sites were ambushed that night, although the Tanzanian rangers had also found the four snares later in the day and removed them. No one returned for the 20 snares and they were removed, three zebra were killed and one released.
On the 24th the tracks of three poachers were seen crossing into the Mara Triangle near the salt-lick (Ol Are) and followed to an area known as Nyumba Nane, quite close to Mara Serena. Two of the three were arrested without them having hunted. 10 wire snares and one spear were recovered.
On the 28th a joint patrol with Tanzanians resulted in the arrest of one poacher out of a group of three. They had killed one wildebeest on the border and we recovered six snares, one bow and arrows.
Fugure 1 shows areas in which poachers were caught and where snares were found
Mr Abdi Boru is due to report on the 1st October as Senior Warden. This will give us two Senior Wardens and we will have to reorganise duties and re-deploy at least one Warden to accommodate Mr Boru.
The Senior Warden photographed all members of staff and processed new identity cards for everyone. They have all been issued.
The Chief Executive to no time off during September.
We continued with repairs and renovations of all buildings at Oloololo and Ngiro-Are. They have been repainted on the outside, plumbing and sanitation systems have all been checked and repaired. We will paint some of the buildings on the inside.
The Warden’s office is being repainted and all plumbing and sanitation at Serena checked and repaired.
The grader has repaired sections of the main road from Mara Bridge to Oloololo and is concentrating on opening up drainage ditches and culverts in preparation for the rains.
The barrier and guard post at Mara Bridge is almost complete and will be manned in October.
A radio was installed at Kinyangaga to facilitate communication between ourselves and the Tanzanians.
The radios at Ngiro-are and Mara Bridge were moved to more suitable sites.
Revenue and Accounts
Deloitte & Touche, the Auditors, started work on the 2002/3 accounts on the 15th September, they have completed their office and field work and we can expect an audit report in early October.
A meeting has been set for the 7th October to review Earthview’s reporting format and improve the Conservancy’s accounting procedures.
We expect September revenue to be down on last year’s revenue. Occupancy rates were lower than for the same period last year and there were proportionately more residents this year than over the same period last year.
Report on focus for September
Focus for October
- Complete work at Mara Bridge;
- Review and revise ToR for Senior Wardens and Administrator;
- Work on registration of all Police Reservists;
- Paint inside of buildings at Oloololo and Ngiro-are;
- Meet with Helen Gibbons, Director of FOC;
- Review reporting by Earthview and improve Mara Conservancy accounting system;
- Purchase one set of new uniforms for all staff;
- Receive audit report and circulate to Directors; and
- Hold lodge manager’s meeting.