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Monthly Report November 2016

General

It was mainly dry until the last week of November. Since then we have had good, widespread rain. The Triangle was better off than most areas to the East – these areas were extremely dry – whereas we had a tinge of green over most of the area and a few showers helped in the western portion of the Triangle.

The Chief Executive met with the Governor and a Lawyer, Mr M Chelanga, on the 9th, to discuss completion of the Management Agreement.

The Chief Executive took ten days off from the 10th.

Mr Eric Becker from the World Wildlife Fund visited on the 21st and 22nd and brought a second FLIR camera and some more hand held FLIR. This equipment is proving invaluable in our night operations and was used in the apprehension of nine people during the month.

The Chief Executive met with the Governor and Mr Kombo Mwero, Managing Director of Africa Spatial Information Centre (ASIC) on the 29th to discuss a survey of the Mara Triangle. ASIC will conduct the survey, starting in the near future.

We held a Board meeting on the 30th.

Veterinary

There appears to be an outbreak of canine distemper in dogs near Kondamet, it has also been reported in other parts of Narok County – as has rabies. So far this year we have vaccinated about 3,500 dogs against both diseases but had not got as far as Kondamet. We have also donated 1,000 doses of the vaccines to the District Veterinary Officer in Narok South so that he can contain the disease there. Both diseases can cause havoc in the wildlife population – canine distemper was responsible for the death of over 1,000 lions in the 1990’s in the Serengeti ecosystem

Staff

We have deployed 35 new rangers to various stations – we now have a full compliment of rangers.

We are expecting Narok County to take on some of the Mara Conservancy rangers and then second them back to the Conservancy. This will give them job security and will assist us financially.

Wildlife

Wildebeest returned in reasonable numbers during the month – there was one crossing, just upstream from Purungat, in which 300 – 500 animals drowned.

One female elephant was found dead near Dirisha on the 22nd. There were no visible injuries.

A number of lionesses have new cubs; including the lioness that likes to give birth in the Serena compound. She is extremely relaxed around people and passes within yards of them, often using pathways to the rooms. However, she does cause alarm with the management and some clients.

Tourism

We continue to have problems with people entering the Triangle as residents, when they are in fact non-residents. We had two cases on the 5th with groups from Wildebeest Safaris and Mario Tours – there was obviously collusion between the drivers and revenue clerks, and possibly our Alpha Scouts at Oloololo Gate. Both drivers paid up and were fined an additional Ksh 10,000. All visitors should have their identification documents scanned – this is obviously not happening. We also found that the receptionist at Little Governors was colluding with the revenue clerk – not ticketing clients and pocketing the park fees.

There seems to be no end to the efforts to avoid paying Park Fees. Acacia Travel requested a waiver for ten Travel Agents – a concessionary rate was given but we discovered that in fact only three of the ten were Travel Agents – the rest were normal tourists. I would like to congratulate our tourism team for their vigilance in unearthing all these scams. It would appear that we can no longer offer concessions to FAM (Familiarisation) Trips by Travel Agents without proof.

Security

Forty-six people were arrested for poaching in November and another six people were arrested after a series of robberies – one of the six was wounded. A total of 630 wire snares were collected; at least 38 wildebeest had been killed, as had 43 zebra, four hippo, two topi, three eland, one warthog and one bushbuck.

The Iseiya team patrolled along the Bologonja River in the Northern Serengeti on the 1st and arrested three people who were in the process of setting snares – eight were recovered. No animals had been killed but there were extensive signs of recent poaching over the whole area.

Two more people were arrested the following day in the Wogga Kuria hills, sixteen snares were recovered and two wildebeest were found dead in the snares. One other poachers’ camps was found but the people had obviously heard the commotion in arresting the two and they had disappeared. The Ngiro-are team found two other snares in the Lemai Wedge and also found two dead wildebeest.

Two fresh hippo carcasses were found along the Mara River on the 3rd and 5th – one was tethered to the river bank – a joint ambush was set but the TANAPA rangers were unable to make an arrest on their side of the river. The Iseiya team found the second carcass near Mlima Hotel and found where donkeys had been used to carry the meat. Five freshly butchered wildebeest carcasses were found during a patrol on the 3rd.

Eleven snares were recovered on the 5th near Nyakita Pembe.

We received a report of a theft from Basecamp Talek on the 6th at 5.00 am. The Iseiya rangers immediately left with the dogs and picked up a track that crossed the Talek before doubling back to camp. A suspect was arrested and most of the stolen items recovered – the only thing missing was a wallet and some cash. On the same day the Ngiro-are rangers joined forces with their TANAPA counterparts and arrested two people during a day patrol. That evening they managed to arrest four more people carrying meat.

On the 7th the Iseiya rangers crossed the Mara River and patrolled between the Bologonja River and the Wogga Kuria hills. They arrested one person who had been hunting alone for six days – he had zebra meat and 13 snares. Later, on the same patrol, they arrested three more people in an area called Nyamburi with wildebeest meat. That night they set an ambush near Machechwe and arrested two, of seven, people as they entered the Serengeti to hunt. The following day they patrolled between Sampura and Nyakita Pembe in the Lemai wedge and found five snares – they collected two and decided to leave the remainder and set an ambush. They watched two people approach with the FLIR and managed to arrest them both and recover an additional eight snares. Our people had arrested one of the two a year ago in the same area. The Anne Kent-Taylor/Oloololo team patrolled between Nyarukunguri, in the Triangle, and Maji ya Bett, in the Lemai Wedge and recovered 32 snares and found one bushbuck dead in a snare.

The rangers patrolled around Limana and recovered 37 snares on the 9th. That evening they ambushed the Ngiro-are swamp and managed to arrest two, of four, people. The poachers had approached from behind the big FLIR camera and were spotted by rangers using the small, hand held FLIR.

On the 10th the rangers joined their counterparts from Kogatende and patrolled Nyamburi – they saw lots of signs of poaching, including the use of donkeys to carry meat and a number of pit traps – dug to catch animals. On the 11th the Iseiya team patrolled between Maji ya Bett and Nyakita Pembe and recovered 61 snares – two zebra and one wildebeest were dead in the snares. The Ngiro-are team crossed the river and patrolled around the Bologonja river – they arrested one person and then set an ambush and arrested three, of four, people in the Wogga Kuria hills – they were carrying topi meat and 63 snares.

On the 12th one butchered hippo was found along Saina’s lugga in the Lemai Wedge and 23 snares were recovered near Miungu. The following day the rangers joined forces with TANAPA rangers and patrolled the Bologonja River towards the pipeline road. They arrested four, of eleven people who had been camped in the area for four months. Donkeys were used to ferry out the meat – the rangers found 71 wire snares, nine zebra carcasses, three wildebeest, one eland, one topi and a warthog that had all been recently killed. That night they set an ambush and arrested two more people with wildebeest meat. It appears that these poachers lived in and around Masai homesteads and were protected by the local Masai East of the Serengeti.

Eighteen wire snares were recovered between Kasarani and Kichwa ya Ndovu in the Lemai wedge on the 14th. That evening a group of armed thugs raided Ngos Nanyuki – a village between the Triangle and Lolgorien and stole Ksh 75,000 (US$ 750). We were called to assist and two suspects were arrested and Garvey – one of our dogs – found three spent AK47 cartridges that had been fired in the raid.

On the 15th our rangers were called to assist quell clashes that were breaking out between the N’dorobo and the Kipsigis on Kimintet and in the Nyakweri Forest. That night we managed to assist 400 people evade the clashes and the following day assisted another 200 people – in all 615 people were moved to defuse the situation – probably half the number of people who were in the forest – essentially engaging in charcoal burning and logging. This was a shocking number, given an operation that had been on-going in the forest for months to stop charcoal burning. A separate report is being compiled on the effectiveness of the operation and possible collusion between law enforcement and the people engaged in these illegal activities. Given the number of people who moved out of the forest the estimates of up to 1,200 sacks of charcoal leaving the forest daily may not be an exaggeration.

A total of 35 snares were recovered on the 17th and an ambush was set between the Ngiro-are swamp and Kichwa ya Ndovu that night. Five poachers were observed by using the Flir and all five were arrested. They were carrying hoes, mattocks, a small sledgehammer spears and knives. They said that they were going to dig for gold near the Mara River but it is more likely that they were going to hunt warthog.

The Ngiro-are rangers arrested two, of three, people on the 18th. On the 19th 17 snares were found along the Ngiro-are swamp and another 92 snares were found on the 20th near in the Limana/Miungu and Kichwa ya Ndovu areas of the Lemai Wedge. On the same day Angama Camp reported a theft – one person was arrested and alcohol and sodas recovered.

One of our patrol vehicles was punctured by nails set in blocks of wood on a track along the escarpment – this is the first time the wa Kuria have intentionally set nails to deter our patrol cars. Twenty snares were recovered on the 22nd between Maji ya Bett and Limana.

Six snares were recovered around Miungu on the 23rd, one zebra was rescued and one wildebeest found dead. The next day 25 snares were collected between Kasarani and Miungu; one zebra had been butchered.

Four people were arrested on the 26th; two by the Iseiya team and two by the Ngiro-are rangers. The Iseiya rangers patrolled along the Bologonja River and managed to arrest two, of three, people. Sadly the commotion alerted another, much bigger camp three hundred metres away and the second group escaped. The rangers reported that at least one eland, 12 zebra and two wildebeest had been killed. The Ngiro-are rangers were told of three people entering the Serengeti near the Kinyanga ranger post in the late afternoon. One of the three saw the rangers early and returned up the escarpment – the next was caught by the rangers and the second was caught by using Sero, one of our dogs, who tracked him to where he was hiding in the Ngiro-are swamp.

Six snares were recovered on the 27th, one zebra was dead in one of the snares. That night, at midnight, we received a call that there was a raid on Olopikidongoe, a village on the way to Lolgorien. There was an exchange of fire between police and the bandits but they managed to escape with shop items and Ksh 60,000. Later that night, at 3.00 am, our rangers, together with some General Service Unit (GSU) policemen tried to stop a suspect motorcycle – they tried to avoid the policemen but were stopped – one person escaped but one was arrested and interrogated. It would appear that he was involved in the raid.

The following night the Oloololo team received a report of people with a firearm – they, together with the GSU, set an ambush. The people tried to evade arrest on a motor cycle and one person was shot and wounded – no firearm was found but they had 50 rolls of Bhang (marijuana) and changaa (an illicit brew).

Four people were arrested in the Northern Serengeti on the 28th in an area called Kolongo ya Itaro. The rangers recovered 56 snares and saw the remains of 20 wildebeest and 15 zebra. The next day another 14 snares were recovered and on the 30th the Ngiro-are rangers arrested one person on the Masanga route.

Revenue and Accounts

Our management accounts for the past four months show that Park Fees were up by 8% on budget (Ksh 121 m against a budget of Ksh 112 m). Our direct costs, essentially KAPS’ commission were up by 22% (Ksh 25 m against Ksh 20 m) and our operating costs were almost exactly on budget. This leaves us with a net income of Ksh 40 million but this will almost certainly be wiped out in the low months of November and March to May. Our staff costs will also be much higher than budget because of the 35 additional staff that have been seconded from Narok County.

As at the 30th November we had accumulated reserves of approximately Ksh 17 million but this will be insufficient to see us through the low season months of March to May 2017.

We paid for the new vehicles in full and have received payment for the two vehicles that we sold.

We received our final tranche of funds from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), we are extremely grateful to DSWT for their support – without it we would have been in a much worse financial position.

Repairs and maintenance

We replaced a section of the pipeline from the windmill to Ngiro-are with PVC pipe, Hopefully this will significantly reduce the number of bursts on this line.

We repainted all the houses at Ngiro-are and completed all necessary repairs;

We repainted the Nairobi office; the outside was done by Triad and we painted the inside.

We received 20 Uni-huts from the County to accommodate the new rangers. We installed four each at Ngiro-are, Iseiya and Oloololo; five at the new station on the base of the escarpment and one at Little Governors. This will ease the congestion in most of our stations.

The culverts at Naisukut were badly eroded on the downstream side and we have put in gabions to shore up the banks.

We took delivery of one new Land Rover for the Chief Executive and a new administration Land Cruiser. We have sold both our old vehicles.

Report on focus for

Complete work at Ngiro-are Done – to put floors in the new uni-huts at Ngiro-are
Complete pipeline at Ngiro-are Done
Collect new Land Rovers Done
Continue with road repairs Done
Sell two, possibly three, vehicles Sold two
Hold Board meeting on the 30th Done
CE to take 9 days off from the 8th Done
Survey Reserve boundary Met with Mr Mwero

Focus for

  • Fix trailer axle;
  • Complete flooring on new uni-huts;
  • Continue with road maintenance;
  • Build accommodation for Dr A Takita;
  • Hold 15 year celebration; and
  • Survey Reserve boundary.