We had light rain for first week of September – it then dried out for ten days before we had two days of very heavy rain from the 17th and then again at the end of the month. These were the heaviest storms of the year and filled the water hole at Egyptian Goose and filled the pan at Bagdad – it had been virtually dry for most of the year.
The Chairman and Chief Executive met with the Narok Governor on 5th to discuss a number of issues including: the recent strain in relations between the Governor and Chief Executive; extending the Management Agreement and the financial situation. We managed to resolve the issues and have a verbal assurance that the Management Agreement will be extended.
The Governor arranged a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta on 12th to present a proposal on improving security in the Mara. The proposal was very well received and we look forward to developing a new and sophisticated monitoring system for the whole Mara.
We held a Board meeting on the 12th and Mr Robert Carr-Hartley was invited to join the Board. Robert is a well-known and dedicated conservationist with a wealth of experience in fund raising.
A Fundraising event in the United States by the Horns and Heroes Project on the 18th raised US$ 22,000 for the International Rhino Foundation and the Mara Conservancy. Thanks to Angela Yang for all her work and a big thank you to the Horns and Heroes Project for their support.
We hosted 31 people from the local judiciary on the 27th for a full day’s game viewing.
The Masai Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative (MaMaSe), a project funded by the Netherlands Embassy and partnering with UNESCO and WWF had six students in the Triangle during the month. They are developing simple, inexpensive, technology to monitor water levels and flows in the rivers that drain into the Mara River basin. They installed a remote weather station at the Serena airstrip, near the windsock.
Kenya Wildlife Service veterinarians visited on the 25th to sample 10 buffalo for an ongoing project on disease.
The dry spell in the second week of September had large herds of wildebeest returning to the southern sectors of the Triangle and by the 20th we had some of the largest concentrations of wildebeest seen in the Triangle for several years. However, the heavy rain had them all heading back to Tanzania and by the end of the month most herds had left again.
A cheetah was reported with five cubs along the border near Ol Donyo Olpaek and then later towards Egyptian Goose. Both mother and cubs are very shy.
One elephant was found dead near Kichwa Tembo on the 23rd. The rangers collected the tusks and found no wounds on the animal but suspect that it was speared on the escarpment.
We held a Wardens’ meeting on the 19th to discuss promotions and several staffing issues. There will be a mini-transfer at the beginning of October.
Angela Yang left the Conservancy on the 24th. She spent a few days in Nairobi meeting people before returning to the United States.
All the County staff were asked to register again with the County, this time their biometric data was being recorded.
Tourist numbers dropped dramatically in September and the situation looks set to remain dire for the remainder of the year. The tourists who have braved it to the Mara will have been rewarded with some exceptional game viewing – surely the best on the planet. All without the crowds that have destroyed the experience for people in the recent past.
44 people were arrested in September – this in addition to the 116 arrests in the previous three months. We recovered 1,324 wire snares as well. Our teams were twice called out to assist in tracking down armed robbers miles West of the Triangle. In the first instance the armed robbers managed to escape on motorcycles and in the second instance, on the 29th, one person was shot dead by two thugs who attempted to rob a m-pesa shop in Masurura center. Two thugs were arrested at their homestead in the early morning hours on 30th after canine Naeku tracked them down to the boma. We left the issue with the Police and Administration.
One person was arrested and eleven snares recovered on the 31st during an ambush in the Lemai Wedge by the Iseiya rangers. A further 28 snares had been recovered in the previous two days.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested four people and recovered 21 snares during a late patrol on the Masanga route into the Lemai. The four were on their way to hunt. In the following three days our patrols recovered 366 snares, rescued six wildebeest and found where nine had been butchered.
The Ngiro-are rangers recovered 27 snares at Nyakunguri on the 5th – these were the first snares to be found in the Triangle this season. On the same day we received a report of a theft from a local NGO, Compassion in Olopikidingoe, a television and other items had been stolen. We deployed the dogs and managed to recover the stolen items and arrest the culprit. The following day our rangers from Iseiya managed to arrest five people in the Lemai Wedge and recover 23 snares – the poachers were on their way in and had not killed anything.
Fifty-three snares were recovered on the 7th by the Ngiro-are team and they also managed to arrest two, of three, poachers. On the 8th five more people were arrested – two, of seven, were arrested to begin with and then taken to Lemai – they were carrying wildebeest meat. The rangers then saw another group on their return and managed to arrest three more people with 27 snares between 6-7 pm.
Four more people were arrested on the ninth by the Ngiro-are rangers on the Kigonga poachers’ route and 29 snares were recovered. One wildebeest was rescued and one was found dead in a snare. The next day a joint patrol managed to arrest six people between Olaro Nyioke and Lemai and recover 22 snares. The last four were arrested late evening and the following morning our rangers returned to the area and recovered another six snares. The rangers extended their patrol and managed to arrest two more people with six snares and recover a further 84 snares. On the same day, the 11th, our TANAPA counterparts requested assistance in an operation to impound cattle – 2,800 cattle were impounded for illegal grazing and were held at the Lemai and Kinyangaga. The officer in charge of the operation was very complimentary about our collaboration and commended our staff for all the work we do in Tanzania. The cattle owners were each fined Tsh 10,000 (Ksh 600) per head.
Our patrol teams went on an early patrol on the 14th, leaving at 3.00 am. They were back by 5.00, having arrested five people carrying the carcasses of one zebra and two wildebeest. That day our rangers patrolled the area these five had come from, and recovered 110 snares near Maji ya Bett. They found where a further 18 animals had been butchered and rescued 10 more.
The Iseiya team arrested one person for illegal grazing in the Reserve, he was fined Ksh 10,000 and on the 16th one more person was arrested for poaching between Nyakita Pembe and Kokamange in the Lemai Wedge. He was in possession of 13 snares and another 22 were collected during the patrol. On the same day, our Ngiro-are rangers arrested seven people for being in the Triangle illegally – they were digging for buried treasure along the escarpment. This story of hidden treasure never goes away; the Germans are supposed to have hidden gold and other valuables during the First World War. People have been searching for it for years, without success, and anything that looks remotely constructed is dug up and destroyed. Sadly, a number of graves have been desecrated in the process.
We received an immobility report from one of our collared elephant called Mytene, in Tanzania and the rangers went to investigate on the 17th. They found the elephant near the Bologonja Gate, he was healthy and in the company of one other bull. While looking for the elephant the rangers saw, and arrested, four poachers who had been camped in the area for three nights. They had killed one zebra and four wildebeest and had 32 snares. In the next two days one giraffe was found snared at Nyakunguri, in the Triangle, eight butchered wildebeest carcasses were found and sixteen more snares were recovered in the Lemai Wedge.
One person was arrested on the Masanga poachers’ route and 10 snares recovered from him on the 21st. A further 34 snares were recovered near Maji ya Bett – two wildebeest were dead in the snares and another three had been butchered. Another 97 snares were collected on the 23rd along the escarpment between Kinyangaga and Kasarani in the Lemai Wedge, one wildebeest was found dead in a snare and zebra was found dead, killed by a leopard, that had been dragging a log attached to a snare around its hind leg.
The Iseiya rangers arrested one person on the 24th near Lempise in Tanzania, he was carrying 10 wire snares. The Ngiro-are rangers, accompanied by a team from Care for the Wild, recovered a further 23 snares near Maji ya Bett on the same day. Over the following few days the Ngiro-are rangers managed to collect a further 258 snares along the escarpment and around Limana in the Lemai Wedge. They rescued two wildebeest, found two zebra and nine wildebeest that had been butchered and found another zebra – being fed on by lion – and a wildebeest dead in snares. On the 25th the Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person with 28 snares and on the 26th The Iseiya rangers arrested two more people; the second person was alone and carrying meat from a butchered zebra.
Revenue and Accounts
In July our revenue was 7% down on the same period last year. All the indications were that August would be very busy and we thought that revenue would almost match August last year. This was not the case, revenue was down by Ksh 13,885,957.00 – 21%; well below our estimates. In the past, high season was three months - July through September. Last year it was six weeks and this year our high season only lasted the first three weeks in August. A financial disaster for us. We had already severely depleted our reserves over the past two years of declining revenues and increased staff costs and could well run out of operating funds by the end of this year.
We have finally opened a bank account with Equity Bank; this will enable us to accept donations through PayPal.
The Spring at Oloololo stopped flowing and caused a real problem, as we rely on the spring for our water there. We had to excavate all the original plumbing and divert water back to its original course – a major job that took two weeks. The spring and windmill are now operational again and we hope that we have gone some way towards resolving the perennial water problems at Oloololo.
We continued with road repairs and patched sections of the main road to Oloololo and the lower road to Mara Bridge.
We installed a double sink in the staff quarters at Iseiya and continued with minor repairs and maintenance to buildings.
We serviced the grader and replaced a number of leaking seals and O-rings.
The hub on the big trailer was damaged and sent to Nairobi for repair. It should be ready at the beginning of October.
Report on focus for September
Focus for October 2014
· Hold Board meeting on 15th October;
· Invite surveyors to meet Board;
· Assist SkyShip in digging murram;
· Build a small shelter at Purungat to display promotional items; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.