Aerial Surveillance Report for February 2019

Published on the 15th of March, 2019

The month of February saw a significant increase in poaching activities in Tsavo. Two recent elephant carcasses and two fresh carcasses were discovered by the Aerial Unit.

Fortunately, both of the fresh carcasses were discovered before the poachers could remove the tusks. On a positive note, we were able to locate several elephants with injuries and treat them before they succumbed to their wounds and the poison. On occasions, arrows were extracted from the wounds, and along with gallons of pus, several kilograms of necrotic flesh removed. Despite the gruesome nature of these treatments, all but one of these elephants was given a good prognosis for recovery. Only one was initially assigned a guarded prognosis due to the depth of its wound, possibly entering into the stomach. It was observed several days later, however, and appeared to be recovering well.

The helicopter was busy for most of the month and in addition to assistance to the veterinary unit, it responded to 4 human-wildlife conflict callouts, including one near Kimana Sanctuary. In the later part of the month, the Trust helicopter received a callout from KFS and the Mt Kenya Trust to assist with several fires that were ravaging the moorland and forest inside Mt Kenya National Park. There were two huge fires raging on the mountain – one on the north-eastern side and the other on the south-eastern side. The helicopter spent two days (10 hours) water bombing the eastern side of the NE fire and moving ground crews along the fire line.

The helicopter also assisted in two orphan elephant rescues airlifting small orphans to the Trust’s nursery. Sadly, one of these orphans was found in a state of collapse and was unable to be recovered. The helicopter also assisted in the darting and treatment of an elephant with a spear wound from a suspected human-wildlife conflict incident near Ol Donyo Wuas.

Highlights of the month included several sightings of wild dog by the helicopter and fixed wing, as well as numerous rhinos and signs of rhinos. On one flight, the helicopter pilot was fortunate enough to spot the very rarely sighted striped hyena as well as 5 rhino and wild dog in a single flight.