November has been remarkably dry, certainly the driest for several years.
The rains have been somewhat disappointing, with scattered thunderstorms along the escarpment but most areas have experienced less rain than expected. The rains should continue through December but all the indications are for reduced rain.
The Chairman and Chief Executive met Mr Andrew Jackson on the 3rd to discuss his possibly joining the Board. Both parties agreed to put off making a decision until January. Mr Jackson has worked at a very high level in KPMG one of the top accounting firms worldwide and would bringe a great deal of expertise to our financial management if he accepts.
Mr Eric Becker visited for three days with a journalist and photographer. He provided us with three new hand-held Flir cameras and set up a system for one of our patrol vehicles to enable the driver to drive at night without lights. Eric also brought three Flir hand-held cameras for use by the rangers.
The Chief Executive took ten days off during the month.
President Kenyatta was sworn in as President on the 28th, ending a period of uncertainty and political upheaval.
It was with great shock and sadness that we heard of the death of Aile Lekakwar, our head mechanic. He complained of severe lower back pain after the vehicle he was travelling in hit a bump at speed and went to Nairobi for a check-up. The specialists saw a crack on one of his vertebra but did not think it was serious – two days later he was dead. Lekakwar was the best mechanic I had ever had the privilege to work with and his expertise with large machinery was unmatched. He will be sorely missed by us and his large family, many of which have followed his career and are excellent mechanics in their own right.
Two other members of staff lost family members. Our commiserations to Cpl D Siele who lost his father and Senior Sgt who lost his mother.
The Warden and Administrative officer both went on their annual leave.
All our security staff have now been taken on by Narok County and their basic salaries and allowances will be paid from the County, we will now only pay for bonuses and allowances.
Dr Limo and his KWS/DSWT team treated an elephant with an arrow embedded in her leg on the 7th. The arrow had been there for some time and the animal was fairly debilitated.
We found Nauku’s transmitter; it had stopped transmitting at the end of August and fell off in late September. It suddenly started transmitting on the 7th and Marc Goss from the Mara Elephant Project managed to locate it early on the 8th. This was an experimental tag and we hope to attach a modified tag sometime in the future.
The cheetah with four cubs lost two of her cubs and has since disappeared, possibly into the Lemai Wedge.
Visitor numbers dropped considerably during November and we can’t expect any real increase until mid-December.
Construction seems to be continuing on the lodge that was stopped near Olonana, this is despite a court injunction. We have also noted that a new camp is being built along the escarpment South of Angama. They appear not to have any permission and we have alerted the County Government. This proliferation of camps along the Mara River and escarpment is a cause for concern. None of the camps ever seek approval from the Reserve management and yet they have the expectation that they will be allowed full access for themselves and their clients.
Two of our dogs had problems this month: Naeku had a pyometra and about a litre of pus was drained from the uterus and Garvey had tendonitis. Both were treated in Nairobi. Naeku is still undergoing treatment in Nairobi.
John Lutenberg and Linda Porter was supposed to assist in training our puppies but unfortunately Linda suffered from kidney stones the day before she was due to travel. They may have to postpone their trip.
We arrested 31 people during the month, that majority of them across the Mara River. We only recovered 40 wire snares but found where two warthog, one hippo, four zebra and three wildebeest had been killed. There was a report of at least one other hippo being killed. We saw very little sign of poachers in the Lemai Wedge and the patrols are having to go further and further afield – often as far as Tabora B in the Serengeti. Our TANAPA counterparts have been very active these past few months and routinely join our patrol teams. They are now very keen to get their own thermal imaging cameras.
Twenty-one wire snares were recovered around Limana on the 30th September and then on the 1st one was person was arrested along the escarpment with three snares. A further five snares were recovered on the 2nd near Tabora B.
On the 3rd one more person was arrested in an area called Mama Kent, in the northern Serengeti. He was part of a group of three who were hunting with machetes. The patrols returned to the Tabora B area and recovered another seven snares and saw three pit traps. Seven further snares were recovered near below Kigonga.
One person was arrested Nyamburi, across the Mara River, on the 6th he was hunting with one dog and had two wire snares. The following day the Ngiro-are rangers managed to arrest seven people in two different operations with our TANAPA counterparts when they patrolled the Bologonja River. Five people were arrested in the first encounter and then two more people were found and arrested. A total of eleven snares were collected and two warthog had been killed.
Three people were arrested during a night ambush between Ngira and Machechwe in the northern Serengeti. They were hunting with machetes. Three more people were arrested on the 12th, two people were arrested between Mlima Hotel and Machechwe by the Iseiya team and then the Ngiro-are rangers arrested one more person was arrested hunting alone near Nyambura. The following night the Ngiro-are rangers arrested two more people near Machechwe during a night ambush – they were hunting with machetes.
Our rangers were informed that a hippo had been poached near Lemai on the night of the 18th. Both teams responded at 3.00 am but by the time they arrived the poachers had taken all the meat and left. They did however manage to arrest one person near the Kigonga poachers’ route as he entered the Lemai Wedge with two snares.
Our rangers joined their TANAPA counterparts on the 19th and patrolled the upper reaches of the Grumetti river. They managed to arrest one person, five escaped. They had killed and butchered four zebra and three wildebeest.
The rangers continued with their patrols of the northern Serengeti and managed to arrest six more people on the 23rd and 24th. The Ngiro-are managed to arrest three people on the 23rd and then the Iseiya team and their counterparts from Kogatende, arrested three more near Tabora B.
One person was arrested at Olaro Nyioke when the rangers came across three people blocking tracks used by the patrol teams. He reported that he had seen people with three donkeys carrying fresh hippo meat. The previous day three snares had been recovered during a routine patrol.
Four more people were arrested on the 29th. The Iseiya rangers managed to arrest three people found chasing animals near Lempise with machetes. One of the three was a cripple, with only one leg, and using crutches. The Ngiro-are rangers also managed to arrest one person near Daraja la Mzee, his companion escaped. They were probably hunting hippo, as they had heavy spears.
Revenue and Accounts
We continue to receive slightly more revenue than for the corresponding period last year. This year we were up by 11% (Ksh 41,287,628 vs Ksh 37,845,526 last year). However, this is less than half the collections in July and August. The projections for November show a significant decline on October. This is normal but probably exacerbated by the political uncertainty surrounding the Presidential elections.
Repairs and maintenance
The new houses at Iseiya were completed and are now occupied by security staff.
The new kitchen and mess area at Kilo 2 are complete.
The Road team spent the month patching up roads that have been damaged by the ongoing rains.
The Partikilat dam has been completed and the only remaining work is construction of troughs. The dam has been constructed as a joint venture between the Mara Conservancy and the Angama Trust and will greatly assist the community in providing water for themselves and their livestock.
Epinician came down to set up the radio tracking system on all our radios and a monitoring screen in the Administrator’s office, this work should be completed in early December. We will now be able to monitor our vehicle and hand-set movements. We will also be looking to integrate this system with SMART. Epinician also disabled the lights on the handsets so that transmissions can be made at night without alerting poachers.
Report on focus for November
Focus for December 2017
· Install signs along the border;
· Start roofing uni-huts;
· Build a barrier and gate house at Kilo 2;
· Construct store for wire snares;
· Complete tracking system;
· Install six new radios; and
· Survey Reserve boundary.