February was a busy month, especially for The DSWT helicopter
February was a busy month, especially for the helicopter. Farmers were preparing to harvest their crops, so the helicopter was involved in several cases of pushing crop-raiding elephants back into protected areas. On one occasion a group of 6 elephants were successfully pushed out of the community and back into the Kibwezi Forest through a dropped section of fence.
Three veterinary interventions were also conducted with assistance from the helicopter, including one of our orphans who was preparing to return to the wild. Fixed wing aircrafts also helped in the transfer of Tsavo's Mobile Field Veterinary Officer to Kimana Sanctuary near Amboseli to treat an elephant suffering from spear wounds. This beautiful famous big bull willneed follow up treatments, so the prognosis remains guarded.
Further south, on a routine helicopter exercise with the K9 unit, an active harbour was discovered atop the Yatta Plateau. Two freshly killed dik diks and a water container were found; however, the poachers having been discovered, fled the Park on foot.
Although there were many instances during the month where tracks were discovered and did not ultimately lead to an arrest, in most cases the poachers were aware that they were being followed and; risk of getting caught is a strong deterrent and one which we hope will keep them, and others that they warn, from returning any time soon.
In the Chyulu Hills, livestock incursions as well as charcoal burning were observed. A few farmers were found to have been cultivating crops along the boundary so follow up was necessary from ground teams to remove them from the Park. A permanent solution to this encroachment and to persistent charcoal burning will be an electric fence being funded by DSWT that will skirt the entire Eastern Boundary of Chyulu Hills National Park.
Most of this has already been completed and the balance will be finished within three months with the total distance of electric fence built and monitored by DSWT will be 93 kms along this sensitive and vulnerable boundary.
Highlights for the helicopter included several sightings of large cats as well as a sighting of two wild dogs cooling themselves in the Athi River. A major highlight for the month was the sighting of 12 out of the 15 rhinos currently residing in Tsavo East on a single patrol. This is a rare event and remarkable considering the size of the area that they occupy.