Regular showers and the occasional rainstorm characterised the first half of September. It then dried up for the remainder of the month.
We held a Board meeting in the Mara on the 15th. We only just managed a quorum, as the majority of Board members were unable to travel for one reason or another. The Auditors presented the accounts for the year ending June 2017.
We held a meeting with the Angama Trust to discuss a photographic competition that Angama are proposing. This is an exciting proposition and we look forward to seeing the results. We also discussed the construction of two dams for the community adjoining the Triangle and the Trust very kindly agreed to co-fund it with the Conservancy. We have since met with Mr Andrew Aho, who visited the sites and has agreed to construct the dams. This project will greatly assist our neighbours in providing water for their livestock and will hopefully reduce pressure on the Reserve in the dry season.
The Chief Executive met with Governor S Tunai on the 22nd to discuss various issues, including some of the issues around the Mara. These included the construction of a new camp near Olonana; illegal grazing and possible solutions; and management of road building equipment belonging to the County. A proposal on the management of some of this equipment has been sent to the Governor for his consideration.
Ms Raabia Haawa organised a first aid training course for staff on the 6 and 7th . She came down with Dr Amir Muhamud from Nairobi to conduct the course. The course was very well received and thanks to Dr Muhamud for donating his time and expertise.
Glen Edmonds ran an advanced driving course for some of our drivers between the 18th and 20th. We are most grateful for their support.
Mr James Siampei attended an advanced analytical training course for intelligence held at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute (KWSTI) for 10 days. This course was conducted by officers from the British Army.
Mr John Kororom was transferred back to Narok County for being absent fort six weeks, with a recommendation that he be disciplined by the County.
The County Public Service Board visited the Triangle on the 28th and have issued appointment letters to all the Conservancy rangers – this now means that all the security staff will be employed by the County and seconded to the Mara Conservancy.
The wildebeest all left for Tanzania and by the 5th there was hardly one animal remaining in the Triangle – it was estimated that 5 – 6,000 wildebeest drowned in the space of five days as they all left. This is the earliest that the wildebeest have left in the 16 years we have been in the Triangle.
Nauku, the rhino, was seen on Enonkishu with a snare around her neck on the 5th, the next day she back in the Triangle on the 6th. still with a snare. She was darted on the 12th and we fixed a new generation tracking device on her left ear. We are now be able to monitor her movements at all times. If the device works we will probably fit them on all our rhino.
One dead elephant was found in the Lemai Wedge on the 11th, the tusks were recovered and given to TANAPA.
Tourist numbers have dropped off significantly – this is a normal occurrence.
There is a new camp being built near Sanctuary Olonana – the landlord is the same for both camps. This camp is being built without any reference to the County or Conservancy and is creating a conflict with existing camps. The County Government have tried to stop the construction of this camp.
We are also hearing that Oberoi Hotels in India want to build a hotel on the escarpment in 2018/19. Surely the days when investors can build a lodge or camp on the Reserve boundary – with the expectation that they will have access to the Reserve – must end. The Triangle is already full in high season and we don’t need more people.
We are considering giving Wildeye a seasonal camp in the Triangle. To date Wildeye have been moving camp every two weeks to comply with our rules on special camp sites. There is one site, where most of the wildebeest drownings take place, 6,000 again at the beginning of September, that is suitable for a camp. Wildeye could use this camp from July to November in the hope that it will deter wildebeest from crossing there and thus significantly cut down on wildebeest mortality.
Tassia, our new puppy died on the night of the 5th – she started convulsing late evening and was dead in the morning.
Anna and her eight remaining pups are doing well and Nairobi and should be ready to return to the Triangle in early October.
Forty-two people were arrested for poaching in September, all of them in the Northern Serengeti. A total of 575 snares were collected – most in the first week. Four wildebeest and one impala were dead in snares, one wildebeest was rescued, one butchered, as was one hippo.
A total of 280 snares were collected along the escarpment in the Lemai Wedge between the 31st and 4th September. Two other snares were found along the escarpment in the Triangle – supposedly set for buffalo by the locals. Four wildebeest and one impala were dead and one wildebeest rescued.
One person was arrested at Kokamange on the 6th and 75 snares collected on the same day. The next day six people were arrested: three during a night ambush by the Ngiro-are team, they then arrested one more person that morning on the route down the escarpment from Kigonga. The Iseiya team arrested two people the same day as they patrolled Lempise and Lugga ya Ngiri in the Lemai Wedge – the poachers had wildebeest meat and 15 wire snares.
There was another incident on the 7th – there was an armed robbery at Isokon, on the escarpment, and Ksh 80,000 plus phone cards worth Ksh 29,000 were stolen from a shopkeeper. Our rangers from Oloololo responded to the theft and joined up with the police. They arrested six Tanzanians who were in the country illegally.
The Ngiro-are rangers arrested two more people at Lempise on the 8th and recovered nine snares. Then on the 10th six more people were arrested in a number of separate incidents. The Iseiya team arrested three people in the very early morning and then one more after daybreak. That evening they did a late patrol and arrested one more person, as did the Ngiro-are team.
A total of 63 snares were collected on the 12th and then on the 13th 27 more snares were collected; nine of them were with a poacher who was arrested at 11.00 am, as he entered the Lemai Wedge between the Masanga Poachers’ Route and Kigonga.
Two, of seven, people were arrested between 9 and 11.00 pm by the Iseiya team near Mlima Hotel, well downstream of Kogatende, on the other side of the river. They were hunting with machetes – where they drive animals into a steep water course and slash them across the back – severing their spinal cords and paralyzing them before returning to butcher them.
On the 16th the Iseiya rangers joined TANAPA and set an ambush near Machechwe, they arrested one person who has carrying four snares and was accompanied by four dogs.. The Ngiro-are team arrested one more person near the Masanga Poachers’ route as he came into the Lemai Wedge mid-morning.
On the 17th our Iseiya rangers joined forces with the counterparts from Lemai and ambushed a hippo that had been speared. Thirteen people came in to butcher the hippo – seven escaped by swimming across the Mara River but the other six were arrested. The Ngiro-are rangers recovered three snares. The following day the Iseiya team patrolled along the Mara River from Daraja la Mzee. They saw three people near the Island below the VIP camp and managed to arrest one person. They continued their patrol and saw dogs chasing animals near Kasarani – close to the escarpment – they managed to arrest four people with 10 dogs. That night two more people from Kigonga were arrested by the Ngiro-are rangers. Seventeen wire snares were found and collected the following morning.
Two people were arrested on the 21st – in the first incident one of the Iseiya vehicles left at dawn, leaving the second vehicle behind. Four poachers thought the rangers had all left and came down the escarpment to hunt with dogs. One person was arrested. Later the same day the Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person between Lugga ya Ngiri and Kokamange as he came in to hunt with dogs.
A total of 25 snares were collected, four on the 22nd and the remainder on the 25th. One, of three people, were arrested in an area they call Serengeti Ndogo – across the river from Lemai. They too were hunting with dogs.
Six people were arrested in four different incidents on the 28th and 29th. In the first instance the Lemai warden reported that 1 large group of people were hunting hippo along the river – the Ngiro-are rangers joined forces and managed to arrest one person – 12 escaped. Later that same day the same team arrested one person hunting alone, he had six snares. That night the Iseiya rangers set am ambush at Lempise and managed to arrest two people – they were on their way to check snares – a total of 49 were recovered on the 29th and two more people arrested.
Revenue and Accounts
We collected marginally more in August than July, much the same as in August 2016. However, we did note a significant drop in total visitor numbers between August 2016 and August 2017 – 22,021 in 2016 against 14,849 in 2017. When we look at the figures we see that there was a slight decrease in non-resident adult visitors, from 9,289 to 8,633, a 7% decrease. The major decrease was in school children; from 5,244 in August 2016 to 199 in this August. A result of the schools being closed over the elections. This partly explains why there was no real corresponding drop in revenue – school children pay the equivalent of US$ 2 per child.
What is interesting is that, despite fewer non-resident visitors, we actually collected US$ 87,505 (796,813 vs 709,308) more than last year, and Ksh 2.53 million less in Kenya Shillings.
Table 1 below shows the profit and loss account from the Audited accounts presented by Deloitte to the Board on the 15th.
Table 1: Statement of profit and loss from the Audited accounts
Other key points in the accounts were:
· The accounts were unqualified. However, they did emphasise “Without qualifying our opinion, we draw attention to note 17 to the financial statements, which indicate that as at 30 June 2017, the company’s current liabilities exceed its current assets by Sh 8,379,472 (2016: Sh 27,407,366). These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Our opinion is however not qualified in this respect.”
· The Conservancy carried forward tax losses in previous years and there is still a tax asset of Ksh 2,488,052.
A few other notes of interest in the accounts:
· Park fees amounted to 83% of total revenue;
· Revenue from Park fees went up by 51% on 2016 – this was without any increase in rates;
· Expenditure increased by 25% on 2016;
· Staff costs amounted to 46% of total expenditure; and
· Advertising and promotion is almost wholly made up of KAPS’ 9% commission.
The Auditors were happy with the way in which the accounts had been prepared and presented. The Board commended management for making a cash profit and getting the audited accounts out within two and a half months of year end.
Repairs and maintenance
We repaired the hydraulic rams on the Case Back/hoe for the second time, they seem to be working well now. We hope that we have found a buyer for the Case and expect a deposit at the end of September and the balance at the end of October.
We completed the renovations on the toilets and showers at the staff quarters and virtually completed the new block.
The new staff housing is progressing well, the roof is on and most of the plumbing and much of the wiring complete. This should be completed in October.
We have installed solar power in the remaining houses at Kilo 2 and Ngiro-are. We also replaced the solar batteries at Purungat.
There was a problem with the grader transmission. The transmission is electrically operated and we brought in a technician from Nairobi to fix it. It was a solenoid switch and easily repairable. We got the technician to check over the grader whilst he was here and he found no other problems.
We continue with resurfacing damaged areas on our roads. They have held up remarkably well this year.
Report on focus for September
Focus for October 2017
· Complete toilet block;
· Complete new staff housing;
· Install signs on the border;
· Start kitchen at Kilo 2;
· Complete one dam on the escarpment;
· Repair grader;
· Start on roofing over the new uni-huts;
· Collect new Land Cruiser; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.