The major challenge during September was livestock
The major challenge during September was livestock. Due to a failed short rains in April-May, the Tsavo Conservation Area has become exceedingly dry and as a result, neighbouring pastoralists are probing much further into the Park than recent years. In some cases, cattle have been sighted as much as 60 kilometres into Tsavo East. The aircraft have been able to monitor and report the position of livestock and especially of their enclosures to the Kenya Wildlife Service so that they can coordinate their efforts. Although the pressure is mounting, KWS has made progress in key areas, and livestock is being slowly pushed back out of the Park.
Another focus during the month of September has been charcoal, especially in the Gazi area. In August, the helicopter was used heavily in operations here locating and responding to as many as 20 charcoal kilns regularly. This month, however, in what is usually one of the worst months of the year for charcoal burning, this has been reduced to between 2-5 kilns per patrol.
As was already mentioned, the current drought has been causing the deaths of elephants, particularly in the Southern part of Tsavo East near Voi. Unfortunately, some of these have been female elephants with calves and the Aerial Unit was called to search for orphans on 4 occasions.
The DSWT’s helicopter has continued to concentrate on patrolling with and training the dog unit, flying with a handler, dog and ranger on each flight and deploying them at various water points to check for poachers’ tracks and harbours, etc.
Highlights in September included a sighting of a pride of lions basking on a sandy beach on the Athi River, a honey badger near Lugard’s Falls, a melanistic serval cat, several sightings of free-range black rhinos in Tsavo East, and a pack of over 40 wild dogs in Tsavo West.
You can read more about these stories in our monthly Aerial Report: