THE ANTIPOACHING PROJECT
For over fifteen years the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been involved in funding and operating mobile de-snaring and anti-poaching units formed to meet the challenges threatening the wildlife and environment of the Tsavo National Parks (20,812kmsq). Today, severe threats to the environmental stability of the area include elephant and rhino poaching for ivory and horn, bushmeat snaring for large scale trade, illegal logging of forested areas, charcoal burning and livestock intrusion.
Tsavo has been the DSWT’s priority area since the inception of the Trust, for the name Sheldrick and Tsavo are synonymous; the late David Sheldrick having been responsible for the development of this virgin uncharted scrubland, which today holds the potential for the best long-term hope for the survival of a greater number of species than any other Park in the world.
Today the DSWT deploys eight full-time anti-poaching units, which patrol the sensitive boundaries of the greater Tsavo Conservation area (48,656kmsq) on foot and by vehicle, whilst working deep within Tsavo East and West National Parks, the Chyulu Hills National Park, the Kibwezi Forest Reserve and bordering private and community ranches in pursuit of illegal activities. These skilled frontline teams, which are equipped with vehicles, camping equipment, radios, GPS’s and cameras, are making a significant difference in deterring, prosecuting and preventing poaching snaring and other crimes within this huge wildlife habitat. Every month each unit confiscates countless snares, destroys numerous charcoal kilns and poaching structures, whilst arresting many poachers and wildlife offenders. The DSWT’s Aerial Surveillance Unit works in tandem with these ground patrol teams so as to achieve these results, whilst working together with the DSWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit in locating and treating a rising number of elephants and other wild species injured through poaching and bush-meat snaring activities.
All anti-poaching operations are undertaken with the close cooperation of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), whilst each mobile unit is accompanied by armed KWS Rangers at all times who have the powers of arrest. Every DSWT ranger has graduated through the KWS’s Manyani Law Enforcement Academy, having completed an intensive 3-month Community Ranger Training Program following a diverse curriculum incorporating Human-Wildlife Conflict and Mitigation Measures, Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Capture, Arrest and Weaponry, amongst a variety of field based skills including Field Survival and GPS Mapping.
The graph below shows the number of snares recovered since the project was initiated:
The following graph shows the number of poachers arrested since the project was initiated:
WILDLIFE MONITORING DATABASE
The DSWT has been running a field monitoring database since June 2009. This incredibly important database has allowed the Trust to comprehensively monitor ground and air operations in the field in order to reveal key trends and data through analytical mapping and reporting. Developments in the design include a very clever ability to search through arrest records by name or related names, with the facility to find those who have been arrested more than once at the touch of a button. Simple queries can also be easily accessed, such as the quantity of bush-meat confiscated and where it was discovered revealing a clearer picture of what the scale of the problem is on the ground.
The DSWT has been also been collecting MIKE data (Monitoring of the Illegal Killing of Elephants) on the database, which allows vital information to be shared with other NGO's as well as Government organizations, which need the data in order to create a broad overview of the poaching situation throughout Kenya. The Trust's projects and data collection covers much of the TCA (Tsavo Conservation Area) which is listed by MIKE as one of the 45 MIKE sites in Africa (four of which are in Kenya) and contains Kenya's largest single population of elephants. This database has raised the Trust’s ability to store information and provide important information to other researchers and interested parties, whilst significantly improving ground activities in the field.
We appreciate enormously the assistance given us by the following supporters and organisations:
The Cullman Foundation
The Capricorn Foundation
The Serengeti Foundation
The Abraham Foundation
The Thin Green Line
East African Canvas Company
If you would like to donate to help the Desnaring Program please click here.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust P.O. Box 15555 Nairobi Kenya