The month started with several days of rain, some of it quite heavy. It then cleared up and September was, for the most part, hot and sunny, with a few showers towards the end of the month.
We organised a two-day meeting to incorporate suggestions from the Technical team into the new Mara Legislation. We managed to complete the work in one day and a new version of the Bill has been prepared. It is a significant improvement on the first draft.
Two roads down the escarpment from Mara Engai and Sun Lodges were closed by the County Government. The roads from camps on the escarpment are a major problem and we have had illegal entry into the Reserve from all three roads.
We burnt one block as planned – it was a perfect, albeit very smoky, burn and despite the dry weather there is now a green tinge over the whole area and animals have flooded into the area.
The team working on a four-part series on the migration, being filmed for the BBC, left on the 17th after being in the Mara for ten days. The series will be aired in Britain in Spring 2016.
We received a new Land Rover as a donation from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. We are most grateful for their support.
The Chief Executive met with Mr Drew McVey of WWF and they have agreed to pay part of the Consultant’s fees in preparing the Management Plan. Hopefully, this payment will help in speeding up the process and we should have acceptable Legislation and a Management plan before the end of the year.
Mr Francis Peengo replaced Warden John Kataka on 11th. Mr Kataka was transferred to Narok County.
Three of our staff accompanies Mr Jim Nyamu on his walk for elephants between Kilgoris and Mara Rianda. Anne Kent-Taylor agreed to pay for their allowances.
The few days of rain at the beginning of September sent all the wildebeest back into the Lemai Wedge, and along the Kenya/Tanzania border from the Army Drift to Ngiro-are. There were numerous crossings, sometimes two or three a day and towards the end of the month we had good concentrations along the escarpment and near Purungat.
Three African Wild Dog were seen on several occasions Nyati 1 and Kishanga in the Triangle. They were all males and two had satellite collars on them.
The cheetah with four cubs is in the process of leaving her cubs; there are days when she is not with them and others when they are all together. One other cheetah has been seen infrequently with two small cubs.
Those people fortunate enough to visit the Triangle in September were treated to some of the best game viewing imaginable, with some of the best weather possible. For people who were prepared to go further afield than the normal circuits, there were huge concentrations of wildebeest and good predator sightings – all without another vehicle in sight. Surely, there is nowhere else on the planet where people can see such an abundance and variety of wildlife in one day.
A total of 44 people were arrested in September – all of them in the Northern Serengeti. Our teams recovered 2,032 wires snares – a record for one month; rescued 86 animals; found 45 dead in snares and where at least 150 animals had been butchered.
The Ngiro-are rangers recovered 16 snares on the 1st and then arrested two people late at night on the 2nd at Kokamange – five escaped. The two people arrested were carrying meat and were on their way home when arrested.
On the 3rd, the Oloololo Rangers arrested one person along the Sabaringo Lugga, outside the Triangle, after a driver reported seeing him. This person appears to have been hunting; he had blood on his clothes and probably got lost after being separated from his companions.
The CE recovered 10 snares on the 5th around Maji ya Bett – he rescued one wildebeest, found five dead as a result of snares and a further three butchered carcasses. The patrol teams recovered a further 27 snares, found at least three wildebeest and one zebra had been butchered and rescued three. They also arrested two people during the day near Nyakita Pembe – with 41 more snares. On their way from leaving the two poachers the rangers came across more people coming down the escarpment and arrested three more people coming to set their snares – they were carrying 13 snares with them.
The Iseiya team patrolled the Konyoike/Maji ya Bett area on the 6th and recovered 60 snares; they rescued 16 wildebeest and found a similar number dead in snares. Three of the snares were found in the Triangle, near Maji ya Suya – one animal had been butchered and the meat taken.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested two people on the 7th as they entered the Lemai Wedge near Kasarani and arrested one more person near Lempise on the 9th as he was carrying meat after a hunting expedition. The patrol teams recovered125 snares in the Lemai Wedge on the 8th and three animals were rescued. Three more people were arrested at 8.00 pm on the 10th near Kasarani as they were going to check their snares – 12 were collected – 2 animals were rescued. The patrols recovered a further 11 snares near Miungu and rescued three more animals.
Sixteen more snares were collected near Miungu on the 11th and then in the evening both patrol teams set an ambush at Kokamange, where they had seen a topi in a snare. The ambush worked and all four people were arrested at 7.30 pm. The following day the Iseiya patrol checked around Limana Kubwa and found a freshly vacated camp – they collected 39 snares, rescued five wildebeest and found where six been butchered. Our other teams collected 136 more snares – rescued seven animals and found a further four dead in the snares. The teams reported that numerous animals had been butchered and the meat taken. Our teams continued to patrol the Lemai Wedge and set ambushes on a daily basis – 43 more snares were collected on the 13 between Nyakita Pembe and Limana – four wildebeest were rescued and six more were found dead in the snares.
On the 14th the patrol teams followed the Mara River near the Singita Camp and came across six people – five escaped but one was arrested at 7.30 pm; he had six snares with him. The Ngiro-are and Ololoololo/Anne Kent-Taylor teams recovered 172 more snares and reported five animals dead in snares and many more butchered.
The rangers patrolled around Maji ya Bett on the 16th and recovered 33 snares – one wildebeest was rescued. The patrol teams continued to collect snares and on the 17th found another17 near Nyakita Pembe. On the 18th four people were arrested in two different operations: in the first, the Iseiya team arrested two, of four, people near Lempise, they had ten snares with them. In the second, a combined TANAPA/Ngiro-are team arrested two people on their way to check snares – the snares were not recovered but a daytime patrol had found fourteen snares near Maji ya Suya, on the Kenya/Tanzania border.
The Iseiya rangers arrested two more people on the 19th as they entered the Lemai Wedge to set their snares – seven snares were recovered from the two. The patrol also collected another 114 snares in the area between Miungu and the escarpment. At least six animals had been butchered and two more were found dead in snares. The following day our teams crossed the Mara River and patrolled Ngira, between Kogatende and Lemai. They found numerous and recent signs of poaching and estimated that at least 50 animals had been killed and butchered. The poachers in this particular area have given up snaring, in favour of driving animals into steep gullies – where they either hamstring them or slash their backs with machetes. We have seen one or two wildebeest with very deep gashes on their backs, just in front of the pelvis – obviously from such slashing.
Fifty-nine wire snares were collected on the 21st and three animals rescued.
The Iseiya team arrested 11 people on the 22nd. The first person was arrested at 5.00 pm and then a large group of poachers came down the escarpment at dusk near Kichwa ya Ndovu in the Lemai Wedge. The rangers managed to arrest ten people just after dark – a total of 343 snares were recovered from these, and the others who escaped. That day was probably a record day for collecting snares – not only the 343 but the Ololoolo/Anne Kent-Taylor and Ngiro-are teams collected another119 snares. Six animals were rescued.
Our teams collected another 77 on the 23rd and five animals rescued. The rangers then crossed the river and set an ambush at Ngira. They saw poachers but unable to arrest any and returned to base at around 4.00 am. The following day the Ngiro-are rangers managed to arrest two, of six, people around Lugga ya Ngiri at 9.00 pm – near the escarpment, they recovered 58 snares, rescued two animals and found six that had been butchered
Five more people were arrested for poaching in the Lemai Wedge on the 26th night. The Iseiya team went on a late patrol and came across some wire snares near Miungu, three wildebeest were in the snares. They set am ambush nearby and at 11.00 pm the rangers heard hyena near the snares. They sent a couple of rangers to investigate and came across six poachers butchering wildebeest. Four of the poachers managed to escape, but two were arrested and 131 snares recovered. Five animals had been butchered. The Ngiro-are team also managed to arrest three people near the escarpment – they recovered 68 snares, rescued eight animals and found that a further three had been butchered.
A further 112 snares were collected in the Maji ya Bett, Miungu and Kasarani areas of the Lemai Wedge between the 27th and 29th. Eight animals were rescued, four had been butchered and another seven were found dead in the snares. The Ngiro-are patrol than found another 134 snares in an area known as Lugga ya Ngiri on the 30th; they rescued 10 animals and found where another 20 had been butchered. The Iseiya team found nine snares around Nyakita Pembe that day and then set an ambush near Kokamange – two people came into the ambush and one was arrested. He stabbed one of our rangers, Justus Lenana, in the arm and was in turn cut on his hand in the scuffle. Both required treatment. This incident highlights the danger that the rangers face on a daily basis.
Revenue and Accounts
Our August revenue was down by 2% on August 2014 – the smallest drop this year. The drop would have been worse if it were not for the new camp, Angama, beginning to operate and the devaluation of the Kenya Shilling. The season was even shorter than last year, starting around the 20th July and ending on the 31st August. It did not help that the migration was so slow and late in arriving. September bookings dropped dramatically from the 1st but picked up with late bookings once the migration settled. October is not looking good and predictions of an El Nino year and potential flooding will not help our medium term prospects.
Figure 1: Trend in non-resident visitors to the Triangle for the first eight months of each year
We have written to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) requesting that we pay our tax arrears in instalments over one year. We have also started paying Value Added Tax (VAT) on our share of revenue. This is further crippling us – we paid Ksh 2.8 million (US$ 28,000) in September alone.
The only thing helping our cash flow has been the devaluation, by around 20% this year, of the Kenya Shilling. As most of the overseas visitors pay in US$ we have been able to offset some of the losses with exchange rate gains.
Repairs and maintenance
The road team worked on the road to Ngiro-are and we started opening some of the drainage ditches, in anticipation of exceptional rains between October and December.
One of the valves broke on the Case tractor, necessitating a complete engine overhaul. The tractor is now working again.
One of the tyres burst on the grader, so we replaced it and one other worn tyre.
We put a new, corrugated iron roof over the Warden’s house at Purungat, to replace the thatched roof that had collapsed.
We painted the classroom at Partikilat and will put glass panes in the windows at the beginning of October.
Report on focus for September
Focus for October 2015
· Complete opening drainage ditches;
· Assist in fixing road to Skyship;
· Work on Management Agreement and Legislation;
· Hold Board meeting on 8th;
· Complete work at Partikilat; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.