The dry spell in July and August ended with three weeks of scattered thunderstorms and showers, this rain led to a mass exodus of wildebeest out of the Triangle and into the Narok side of the Mara and by the 20th there was hardly a wildebeest to be seen in the Triangle. However, zebra and a few wildebeest started returning to the Triangle in the last few days of the month.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Seiji Inoue, Technical Director of Mpata Safari Club, on the 3rd to discuss the Keidernen Trust donation for road works along the river. The Trust is interested in trying a “sandbag” technology that has been developed in the Far East on flood prone sections of the road. The Chief Executive also met with the Clerk, Trans Mara County Council on the 3rd to discuss salary arrears, apparently the rangers had been complaining about the amount paid by the Conservancy in salary arrears.
We held a meeting with Mr Rob Malpas of the Conservation Development Centre (CDC) on the 5th to discuss a way forward on the 10 year Management Plan. CDC will develop a scope of work before the next Board meeting in October, once approved this will set the timetable for the plan. We hope that it will be ready before June 2007.
The Chief Executive met with the new American Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Michael Ranneberger on the 9th. On the same day he met with auditors sent from Kilgoris.
The auditors started work on the 11th and came down to the Mara on the 16th to verify capital items and review Earthview’s systems.
The Chief Executive attended part of the “Great Mara Debate”, hosted by the Ecotourism Society of Kenya on the 22nd in Nairobi. The primary issue revolved around the proliferation of camps and lodges around the Mara and the spokesman from NEMA (National Environment Monitoring Authority) said that 36 applications for new camps and lodges had been put on hold, pending a comprehensive management plan for the area. Funds are being sought through the Tourism Trust Fund for this Mara wide management plan but it is envisaged that the process will take three years to complete.
The Chief Executive and Warden Operations attended a security meeting chaired by the Commandant of the Tourism Police at Mara Sarova on the 26th. The main issue for discussion was the increase in insecurity in camps outside the National Reserve; there have been at least seven robberies in camps outside the Reserve in the past two months. The Tourism Police have just established a presence in the Mara and have now based one officer and 10 policemen at Sekenani Gate. We used the opportunity to discuss traversing rights with the Senior Warden, Narok. This was followed up two days later with a meeting at Kichwa Tembo between representatives of Koiyaki Group Ranch, the National Reserve and the Mara Triangle, in which it was agreed that vehicles and passengers in transit would not be made to pay. The principle of paying for game viewing was also approved but needs to be ratified between the Councils and the Group Ranches.
Honey, the female cheetah with four cubs lost another cub on the fifth. The Big Cat Diary, who have been filming her found the dead cub a day later, with its head crushed, most probably by a lion that was seen in the vicinity.
One lion was reported injured in a fight with other lions on the 16th, he had deep bite wounds on the head and shoulder. He was observed for a number of days until he improved and had joined a pride.
One elephant was found dead near the main road at Sankuria on the 26th with a spear deeply embedded near its kidneys. It also had a poisoned arrow in its leg – this is the first case of a deliberately poached elephant we have seen in the Mara Triangle in the five years that we have been here. It would appear that the elephant, a large lactating female, had been speared two or three days before and had almost certainly come down from the escarpment.
P Siampei returned from leave on the 10th.
J Kimojino spent the month at Kichwa Tembo on a guide’s training course undertaken by Conservation Corporation Africa (CCA).
We instituted the new “Daily Game Viewing Fee” for visitors holding valid Narok County Council Tickets on the 1st. On the 6th Narok retaliated, by charging the full entrance fee to all transit passengers through Sekenani Gate. After some discussions with the Clerk Narok County Council we dropped the charge, pending a formal meeting between ourselves and Narok. The charge did have the desired effect, daily visitor numbers through Mara Bridge dropped from an average of 357 in August to 153 in September and had fallen to an average of 15 per day for the days we were charging.
Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in September
A total of 20 wa Kuria poachers were arrested during the month, bringing to the total to 672. A total of 323 wire snares were recovered, 221 carcases of poached animals were found and 20 animals were saved from snares. With the exception of the poached elephant all the poaching incidents were in Tanzania. Most of the arrests were made along the western edge of the Lemai Wedge, as poachers came down the escarpment in the late evening or returned home in the very early hours of morning. This meant that a lot of the anti-poaching work was undertaken at night, often with patrols that started at midnight or about 3.00 am.
We returned the two dogs and their handlers to Mugie Ranch on the 4th, unfortunately we never came across any fresh signs of poaching in the ten days that the dogs were based with us so were unable to use them in tracking down and apprehending poachers.
A combined Serena/Ngiro-are patrol recovered 60 wire snares on the 6th around the Ngiro-are swamp in Tanzania. Six wildebeest and two eland were found dead and five wildebeest rescued. That evening they set a combined ambush and arrested one person.
The following day, the 7th, the combined team joined their Tanzanian counterparts across the river at Kokatende and arrested two of four wa Kuria poachers near Waga-Kuria. The poachers had set 16 wire snares and killed and butchered two wildebeest.
Wa Kuria stole eight cattle from near Kawai on the night of the 8th, the cattle were brought down into the Triangle and our rangers alerted at 10.00 pm. They set four ambushes near Ngiro-are and at 2.00 am the cattle thieves drove the cattle into one of the ambushes. All the cattle were recovered but unfortunately the thieves escaped.
The Ngiro-are team arrested one poacher in the early morning of the 11th as he returned from setting 16 wire snares.
The Serena team arrested one poacher in Tanzania, along the escarpment, on the 16th as he returned from hunting in the early hours of morning. He was one of three poachers who had killed a wildebeest and was returning home. Six wire snares were recovered, adding to the 21 wire snares recovered that day.
One wa Kuria poacher was arrested by the Serena team on the evening of the 18th in Tanzania. He was one of three poachers who had set up camp that morning and were in the process of butchering a wildebeest that had been snared that day. The poachers had killed one wildebeest and10 wire snares were recovered.
The Serena team recovered 30 wire snares along the escarpment in Tanzania on the 19th, adding to the 16 recovered by the Ngiro-are team on the same day. On the 20th the Ngiro-are team arrested two wa Kuria poachers at Ol are Onyoike in the Lemai Wedge during a morning patrol, seven wire snares were recovered.
On the 21st, at 6.30 in the evening the Ngiro-are team arrested one poacher with five wire snares near Kokamange in the Lemai Wedge.
The Serena team arrested two wa Kuria poachers on the 23rd. On the same day the Ngiro-are team arrested another two poachers – a total of 39 wire snares were recovered. That night the Ngiro-are team joined up with Tanzanian rangers from Kokatende and arrested three more poachers, from a group of six, behind Saiyari Camp at midnight, 16 wire snares were recovered.
On the 24th the Serena and Ngiro-are teams each arrested one poacher near Kokamange and Nyamburu, towards Lemai in the Serengeti. A total of 7 wire snares were recovered.
The Serena team arrested two poachers at 5.30 am on the 24th, as they were returning home from hunting near Kokamange in the Lemai Wedge. They had 5 wire snares and had killed one wildebeest.
Revenue and Accounts
The auditors started work on the 2005/6 accounts on the 11th September and complete their field work in the first week of October. They visited the Mara on the weekend of the 16th and spent time reviewing Earthview’s procedures.
The first Land Rover was delivered on the 2nd and the second new Land Rover was ready for collection on the 8th and was collected on the 11th.
We approved the overhaul of the smaller tipper trailer, this was sent to Nairobi for repair and returned to us on the 17th. Unfortunately the rims were not repaired and on the first day of work all the studs on the new axle were broken. We are now awaiting new rims.
We renovated and re-painted all the houses at Oloololo Gate.
We completed renovations on the house at Mara Bridge and it was painted after the work was completed at Oloololo. The rainwater pit at Mara Bridge dried up for the first time in five years, we used the opportunity to clean out the silt and re-roof the pit.
We started work on pit latrines at the Oloololo campsite and gate.
Report on focus for September
Focus for October
· Hold Board meeting on the 16th;
· Complete toilet block at the Oloololo campsite;
· Re-roof rainwater catchment at Mara Bridge;
· Open up mitre drains and clean culverts on the main roads;
· Finalise annual audit; and
· Review Scope of Work on 10 year Management Plan.