We had light rain and scattered thunderstorms everyday for the first half of September. This rain was sufficiently heavy in the northern Serengeti to send most of the wildebeest back into Tanzania.
The Ministers of Local Government and Immigration paid a short visit to the Mara Triangle on the 2nd. They were accompanied by about 40 people, including some Councillors.
The Chief Executive held a short meeting with executives from the Serena chain on the morning of the 3rd. They discussed new developments in the Triangle, traversing rights and costs between the Narok and Trans Mara portions of the Game Reserve.
The Minister for Immigration and Member of Parliament for Trans Mara expressed an interest in attending the Board meeting and asked us to defer the meeting until a convenient date for him. This, we did, and will set another date when he returns from a trip overseas.
We held a meeting with the local administration, Kichwa Tembo management, members of Koiyaki Group Ranch and the Conservancy to discuss traversing rights on the 17th. Individual land owners on Koiyaki had started charging visitors in transit full park fees for being on their land. It was agreed that no one in transit would be charged park fees but that Koiyaki could legitimately charge visitors if they went off the main access tracks and were game viewing.
We held a short training session for the Trustees of the staff provident fund on the 20th and this was followed by a Trustees meeting at which Joseph Kimojino was elected Chairman and Charles Gitau elected as Secretary. At the same meeting we approved the Trust Deed and formally appointed the Fund Managers and Auditors.
The contract for the 10 Year Management Plan has been signed and we can expect work to proceed. The first sector committee meeting, for environment and natural resources, is scheduled for the 2nd October and a committee has been selected for tourism.
One lioness had to be destroyed on the 3rd after she fought with a pride of other lions – one of her back legs was broken and there was no hope of surgical repair.
On the 12th, visitors witnessed lionesses treeing two leopard. The lionesses then moved off and when one of the leopard came down the tree the lioness attacked her and caused quite severe injuries before she managed to escape up the tree again.
The wildebeest started moving towards Serena and by the middle of September there were daily crossings as animals went North onto a large burn between the Mara River and Governor’s Camp. Heavy rains around the 15th also led to mass movements of the wildebeest herds back into Tanzania and for a week; between the 15 and 21st, between 8,000 to 10,000 wildebeest died when trying to cross the river in an unsuitable place near Serena’s bush lunch site. This is the worst die-off witnessed since the Conservancy started operating in the Mara. After the 18th we tried to divert the crossing point but the animals seemed determined to cross. By the end of the month there were virtually no wildebeest left in the Triangle – there is a good chance that they will return but, if not, it will have been a very poor migration.
One zebra, with a snare around its neck and dragging a small log, was darted on the 23rd and the snare removed.
One person was found dead, killed by an elephant at Naisukut, near Oloololo Gate on the 28th. The person was not a local and it is suspected that he was a Luo who may have been mentally unstable and had wandered into the Park.
Two members of staff: Sgt J Ampani and Cpl P Risasi requested transfers back to the Council. We have requested four rangers in their place.
Tour drivers and guides have, on the whole, behaved very responsibly but a number of drivers have broken park rules over the past two months and have been given written warnings, copies of which have been sent to the respective companies. A summary of the offences is listed below.
16 wa Kuria poachers were arrested in September, bringing the total arrests up to 899. At least 382 wire snares were recovered. Virtually all the arrests were made at night; often well after midnight. The poachers are avoiding open areas and concentrating on rocky ridges, knowing that it is far more difficult for our rangers to approach and apprehend them.
The Lewa Conservancy sent ten of their rangers on a visit on the 1st. They joined forces with our security personnel for one week before returning on the 9th. We received a second contingent of Lewa Scouts on the 12th.
Our security staff mounted a three day anti-poaching operation in the Lemai Wedge from the 4th in conjunction with Tanzanian and Lewa rangers. One poacher was arrested on the morning of the 5th and another two were arrested the following morning at 5.00 am. 105 wire snares were collected in the three days and at least one wildebeest carcass found in the snares.
The Serena team recovered 16 wire snares near Konyoike on the Kenya/Tanzanian border on the 10th. It would appear that the poachers are only operating at night, coming down off the escarpment after dark and returning before dawn.
The Serena and Ngiro-are teams arrested one poacher, out of a group of five, on the night of the 11th. Our rangers had found the snares late in the evening and had decided to ambush the site. The poachers were returning to check them at 7.40 pm, when they walked into the ambush.
The second Lewa team spent three nights out on patrol between the 15th and 18th and during that time were involved in the arrest of three wa Kuria poachers in Tanzania. The poachers were all caught at night – one was part of a group of 10 poachers and the others were part of much smaller groups. 147 wire snares were recovered during the operation, four wildebeest were found dead in snares and one animal was saved.
The Serena, Ngiro-are Tanzanian teams arrested two was Kuria poachers close to the Ngiro-are swamp on the night of the 23rd. The first poacher was arrested at 10.30 as he came in to check snares. He informed the rangers of another group of eight who had come in to check snares. Unfortunately the eight evaded arrest but just before dawn the rangers arrested one of two poachers who had come in to check on their snares and were returning home. They had not caught anything.
One poacher was arrested on the night of the 24th at 2.00 am near the Kinyangaga Ranger post in Tanzania by the Serena and Ngiro-are teams. He was one of four people who had killed two zebra and were returning home. They had re-set the snares for the following nightThe following evening we checked the area we suspected the poachers had left their snares; 26 were recovered on a rocky ridge between the Ngiro-are Swamp and Konyoike. One zebra and four wildebeest were found dead in the snares; one zebra and two wildebeest were released.
The Serena team arrested six wa Kuria poachers on the night of the 27th at around 2.00 am. The rangers had found 73 wire snares during a day patrol near Kasarani and had decided to ambush the area. A large group of 54 people came in after 1.00 am and started hunting in the area and the six were apprehended as they were setting snares. At least 15 wire snares were recovered and one wildebeest saved.
Revenue and Accounts
The Auditors completed the annual audit for the period ending 31st May 2007 – these accounts and the accompanying Management Letter were circulated to the Board.
Conservation Corporation still do not pay park fees for their clients from Kichwa Tembo and Batleur Camp entering the Mara Triangle, despite a commitment to do so from January 2007. This failure to pay will severely affect our budgeted cash flow for the year and we will probably have to stop some of the activities and purchases planned for the financial year.
We managed to hire a large bulldozer for one day from the contractors working on the Oloololo Gate to Mara Bridge Road. The bulldozer dug up approximately 300 lorry loads of murrum for us to use on road repairs.
The contractors for the road between Mara Bridge and Mara Serena started stacking murrum towards the end of the month, this road should be complete by the end of October. The contractor for the other section of the road should commence in early October.
We graded the road between the 4 km sign, near Serena, along the river to join up with the Japanese project. The murrum dug by the bulldozer will be used to upgrade this road.
We ordered another 10,000 sacks for the Japanese funded road. This road is extremely expensive and time consuming to construct, costing at least US$ 10,000 (Ksh 660,000) per 100 metres. Mpata and the Keidenaren Trust have pledged a second tranche of funds to cover the reimbursement of recent expenses.
Work on the new housing is progressing well and the new houses should be almost complete by the end of October.
We are grateful to Mr Martin Forster for the purchase of a new tent for the Chief Executive’s camp. This has been erected.
We purchased two new uniports (portable metal houses) to ease congestion in staff housing. The first of these was built at Mara Bridge.
We emptied the septic tanks at the staff camp at Serena and at Oloololo Gate.
Report on focus for September
Focus for October
· Complete new housing at Serena;
· Continue with Japanese funded road;
· Continue with improvements to main Oloololo to Mara Bridge Road;
· Collect uniforms;
· Take delivery of new grader; and
· Hold Board meeting.