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March 2019

General

We had a few days of rain from the 2nd, it was then dry for most of March, with two days of rain at the very end.  We managed to partly burn one block along the escarpment just before the rain at the end of the month.

 

The Chief Executive met with a team from the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) and Vulcan, headed by their Principal Business Development Manager Ted Schmitt,  on the 5th.  Vulcan are working with MEP on an integrated information and monitoring system for patrols and wildlife called Earth Ranger.  We would like to  link into the system, our current tracking system leaves a lot to be desired, and a first step will be to purchase In Reach GPS systems that download tracks and points of interest onto satellite.  A real weakness in our current system is that it relies on phone or our radio coverage. 

 

Instructors from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Training School at Manyani paid a visit on the 8th to see how the last trainees were doing.  On the same day all the firearms were inspected by the Police Operations Commander in the Mara for their annual renewal.

 

The Chairman visited the Triangle on a private visit from the 12th to 15th and the Chief Executive took a week off from the 16th.

Staff

E Molai and D Aruasa attended a training course for SMART and then D Aruasa attended a course on investments for the pension scheme.

 

Three of our staff attended a short course on leadership provided by WWF and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Research

Stratton Hatfield placed a collar on a young martial eagle. 

 

In February we though that the Mara River could not get lower, it did and by the end of March it had virtually stopped flowing.  We had a large number of fish die opposite the Kichwa airstrip.  This seemed different from the other die-offs that we have witnessed in that it did not seem to be associated with a surge of water.

 

Wildlife

A hyena from the North clan was seen with a wire snare around its neck on the 5th, this is the second hyena from the same clan in a month. 

 

The rangers found an old elephant carcass near Watu Kumi in the Lemai Wedge on the 10th, the tusks were recovered and handed over to TANAPA.

 

Three lion cubs were killed near Oloololo, it would appear that they were attacked by a group of lions that came across from Musiara.

 

Security

Fifteen poachers were arrested during the month, three of them in the Triangle.  At least six hippo are known to have been killed, as was one bushbuck and a zebra.

 

The Nigro-are rangers arrested one person after an all-night ambush on the 3rd, he was alone at 6.00 am near Lempise and said that he was cutting grass.

 

One person was arrested on the 11th at Serengeti Ndogo, he was part of a group of eight people who had killed a bushbuck.

 

There were several reports of hippo being speared and butchered near Lemai, four had been killed by the 11th, three of them just outside the Serengeti.  A fifth hippo was killed and butchered in the Lemai Wedge – downstream from the Nigro-are swamp.

 

The Nigro-are team arrested seven people on the 15th, three during the day as they entered the Lemai Wedge along the escarpment, and another four when they joined TANAPA rangers and recruits on an ambush that night.  The four were part of a group of six who were on their way to hunt and were coming down the Masanga poachers’ route.

 

Three days later the Nigro-are rangers caught one more person on the Kigonga route in daylight. 

 

The Ol Kurruk rangers reported a zebra that had been speared on the escarpment, they set an ambush bit no one came. 

 

One more person was arrested whilst hunting gazelle with torches on the night of the 24th, three people escaped.

 

A routine patrol on the 27th, by the Oloololo/Little Governors teams, along the river came across a freshly butchered hippo just downstream from what used to be River Camp.  The rangers called for back-up but they were heard and the poachers escaped across the river.  That afternoon four people walked into a team ambushing the poachers’ camp, they all escaped.  That night our teams set up an ambush and watched three people approach in the Flir camera.  They managed to arrest all three and were told that there were two others – the rangers never saw the others.  They had killed the hippo two days previously, had butchered it and were waiting for the meat to dry before carrying it out.  One of the three poachers had been arrested twice before, once inside the Triangle, along the river.  Her had also been arrested for cattle theft.

 

One person was arrested along the escarpment on the 30th by the Nigro-are rangers, he said that he was cutting grass and was armed with a machete.

 

Revenue and Accounts

February revenue was slightly down on January but well above February 2018.  It would appear that that Dusit 2 attacks in Nairobi had little, or no, impact on Mara visitors, though it has impacted tourism at the coast.  We are now into low season and will expect expenditure to exceed revenue for the coming three months, fortunately we have built up adequate reserves.

 

We had one incident in which a revenue clerk tried to utilize an unused voucher on a ticket and pocket the cash paid by another operator.  It would appear that the supervisor at Oloololo was in on the deal and the issue is being dealt with by KAPS.

Repairs and maintenance

We removed the thatch from the KAPS office at Purungat and hopefully bat-proofed the office.  We also painted the office.

 

We received three new Suzuki Maruti jeeps.

 

We have installed a new, 5,000 litre petrol tank and pump at the office – it took over two weeks to dig the hole through solid rock.  This now means that we don’t have to rely on other sources of fuel for our Suzukis.

 

The grader transmission was overhauled and installed.  It was then checked and passed by the agents.  We have done a little work with it to check it.  A number of hose and hydraulic pipes are leaking and they will be replaced in readiness for the next season starting June.

 

We purchased and installed new, adjustable, shelving for the store.  We are trying to make sure that all the items are properly itemised and recorded.  

 

We constructed a new room at the Kilo 2 ranger post and replaced the wooden benches with concrete ones.

 

We completed the Administrator’s house and it should be habitable in early April.  We strengthened the walls, put on a new roof and ceiling and tiled the bathroom, kitchen and floors.

 

We resurfaced large sections of the road from Nigro-are.

 

Internet Solutions (IS) installed a new wifi system for us in the Mara to replace the Safaricom system that we have been using.  It is free of charge, compensation for a Seiya mast that they are using near Talek.

 

Kijito sent down their technician to service and repair two windmills, all the worn out parts have now been replaced.

Report on focus for March

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Focus for April 2019

·             Attend Serengeti/Mara meeting from the 26-28th ;

·             Sell Suzukis;

·             Work with Angama on toilet facilities at Hippo Pools;

·             Build visitor toilet at Kilo 2;

·             Plan on dam at Kerengani;

·             Move stores and ensure all their records are correct;

·             Develop  Annual Work Plan and budget;  and

·             Survey Reserve boundary.

March 2006

General

There were a series of very heavy rain storms in the first ten days of March, leading to considerable damage to the roads and tracks, flooding all the water courses and the Olpunyatta swamp.  The weather then cleared somewhat, with clear, sunny days and isolated thunderstorms and heavy showers most evenings.

 

The Chief Executive met with M/s Mori and Kalongo of Mpata Club on the 1st.  Mr Mori reported that Mpata had received US$ 20,834.00 (Ksh 1.5 million) from the Kaidaren Trust for developing the road improvement programme; this will be paid to the Mara Conservancy.  The first phase of this programme, to improve the river road between Mara Serena and Oloololo gate had been designed and budgeted for by the Ministry of Works in Kilgoris and already submitted to Kaidaren.

 

The 10 year management agreement was endorsed by the Minister of Local Government on the 3rd, this now means that we officially have a new 10 year mandate to manage the Mara Triangle in partnership with the County Council.

 

Ms Alison Jones visited the Conservancy between the 6-10th, Ms Jones is one of our original donors, without whom we would never have been able to capitalise the Conservancy.

 

The Chief Executive met with Ms Wairimu Mwangi, Senior Consultant in Deloitte’s Management Consulting division and Mr Fred Aloo of the Audit section on the 13th to discuss the recruitment of a full-time accountant/administrator for the Conservancy.  Deloitte’s will advertise and short-list suitable candidates for the final selection by the Conservancy.

 

The Chief Executive met with Mr Harold Wackman of the Africa Conservation Fund in the Mara and then followed it up with a meeting in Nairobi with him and their Executive Director, Dr Emmanuel de Merode on the 17th.  The Africa Conservation Fund are developing a novel way of raising conservation funds through the internet and we have held preliminary discussions on raising donations through them.  We have invited Dr de Merode to give a short presentation to the Board at their next meeting in April.

 

The Chief Executive met with Ms Amanda Feldon, a film producer/director, who would like to make a film on anti-poaching in the Mara as part of a series for Discovery/Animal Planet.  We have since corresponded and are planning something for somewhere between July and September 2006.

 

The Chief Executive met with Mr Ibrahim Khalif of Deloitte Consulting to discuss taxation issues on the 23rd.  The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has responded to our request for tax exemption by requesting audited accounts since 2001.  We have been advised that KRA will conduct an audit on PAYE and withholding compliance and that we will be expected to pay any outstanding taxes.

 

The Chief Executive attended a meeting at KWS on the 24th to discuss proposed management plans for Meru and Tsavo National Parks.  He used the opportunity to meet with Rob Malpas of the Conservation Development Centre (CDC) to discuss the possibility of doing a 10 year strategic management plan for the Mara Triangle.  CDC have just completed a management plan for the Serengeti and it seems ideal to match the Serengeti plan with management objectives for the Mara in terms of developing an ecosystem based management plan.

 

We have started work on the 2006/7 Annual Work Plan and will have it ready for review by the Board prior to a meeting scheduled for mid-May.

 

Wildlife

Most of the wildebeest left in the first few days of March, leaving a few small groups scattered around.  The zebra started leaving the Triangle, heading North within the first half of March and by the end of March there were no wildebeest and virtually no zebra left in the Triangle.  This seems to follow the normal pattern, when exceptionally heavy rains trigger a movement of animals out of the Triangle.

 

We have one cheetah with three six-week old cubs near the border;  the cubs left the nest towards the end of the month and have not been seen since.  There was one pair of cheetah mating near the 4km sign from the 21st for three days.

 

One lioness gave birth to three cubs on or around the 20th, we have had problems with tourist vehicles approaching too close and harassing the mother and Cheetah 1, our monitoring vehicle, is having to spend an inordinate amount of time protecting the mother and cubs.  One other lioness from the “Benjamin Lugga” pride is due to give birth any day.

 

A leopard was released by KWS on the 29th along the BBC lugga, between Mara Serena and Mara Bridge.  It had been trapped for killing livestock.

 

Staff

Mr E Nkoitoi took over legal custody of all the Council firearms through the issuance of a new firearms certificate on the 13th March.  He now has 40 firearms under control, 32 of which are in the Triangle and the rest in Kilgoris.

 

Mr Kipas Sairowa completed a course at Ngong for road maintenance equipment, he is now licensed to operate and drive graders and shovels.

 

Three members of staff attended the Kentours AGM in Nairobi on the 18th.

 

Tourism

Occupancy rates in the lodges dropped off during the month as we enter the low season. 

 

We have scheduled a meeting will all resident driver/guides and lodge managers for the 10th April to discuss driver discipline and brief managers on proposed developments in the coming financial year.  This meeting will be hosted by Kichwa Tembo.

 

Table 1 shows day visitors into and out of the Mara Triangle from other parts of the Mara in March

 

Security

We arrested a total of 15 wa Kuria poachers during the month, bringing the total up to 462, 80 of them arrested in the past four months.  Of the 15 arrests, seven were in the Triangle and the remainder in Tanzania.  67 wire snares were recovered during the past month.

 

Two wa Kuria poachers were arrested in a joint operation between the Ngiro-are team and their counterparts from Kokatende on the 2nd.  The poachers had just arrived in an area downstream from Kokatende on the far side of the Mara River when apprehended, they had tem wire snares.

 

Four wa Kuria poachers were arrested between Daraja la Mzee and the Mara River in Tanzania on the 4th by the Serena team, they had been hunting for a couple of days and had killed a wildebeest calf.  45 wire snares were recovered.  One of the four had just escaped arrest two weeks before, by submerging himself in a pool of water, and had been hunting on his own until he met up with the other three.

 

A routine patrol on the 8th found three wire snares in the same area, two of the snares had killed zebra, one of which had been eaten by hyena, the other was just alive when found but died minutes later.  An ambush was set on the snares and three poachers came in at 3.15 in the afternoon.  They were with dogs and speared a warthog as they approached the ambush.  Unfortunately we were unable to arrest anyone as the ambush was sprung slightly early.

 

Seven wa Kuria poachers were arrested on the morning of the 10th by a combined Serena, Hammerkop, Mara Bridge and Ngiro-are operation.  This followed a report by one of the Serena drivers that one poacher had been seen late the previous evening between the Tanzanian Border and Nyumba Nane –immediately following the report we mounted a small operation and an ambush but were hampered by exceptionally heavy rain.  It transpired that 8 poachers had arrived during the rain in the late evening of the ninth, one escaped and seven were arrested close to the area described by the Serena driver, they had 19 wire snares and had not started hunting when apprehended.

 

Seven wire snares were found on the Kenyan side of the border, near the Ngiro-are swamp on the 13th, an ambush was laid but no one returned.

 

Seven cattle were stolen from near Kawai on the night of the 14th, the owners did not realise until morning and raised the alarm at 7.00 am.  Our rangers immediately mounted a joint operation with the Tanzanians and recovered six of the cattle, the seventh was found dead, well into Tanzania.  It is unfortunate that we were not told that night as we would almost certainly have recovered the cattle and arrested the thieves – as they passed one of our pre-determined ambush points in the event of cattle theft.

 

Two poachers were arrested at 1.00 am on the night of the 24th by the Serena Team.  They were part of a large group of poachers who came into the Lemai Wedge after midnight to hunt gazelle, one Thompson’s gazelle had been killed when the two were apprehended.

Development

We have started work on the office an Ngiro-are and the mason has now completed the walls and placed the ring beam. 

 

We worked on the lower road between Mara Serena and Mara Bridge and have repaired most of the areas that were causing problems when wet.  The main road to Mara Bridge is currently being worked on.

 

The grader repaired the main road between Mara Serena and Mara Bridge, unfortunately the murram is now so thin in some sections that very heavy lorry traffic breaks through the murram and causes considerable damage to the road.

 

Revenue and Accounts

M/s Nderitu Wachira and Associated were appointed to conduct an audit of Earthview and started work in the second half on the month.

 

We can expect a considerable drop in revenue over the next three months, as we enter the low season.

 

Report on focus for March

 

Focus for April

·       Complete Earthview Audit;

·       Recruit Consultant for 10 year management plan;

·       Hold lodge managers and driver/guides meeting on the 10th;

·       Hold Board meeting on 12th;

·       Start staff appraisals;

·       Complete Annual Work Plan and submit to the Board;  and

·       Complete office block at Ngiro-are.