Aerial Surveillance Report for July 2018

Published on the 31st of July, 2018

As is typical for this time of year, signs of poaching activity increased in July.

Both fixed wing and helicopter patrols revealed several harbours and evidence of used campfires. These coordinates were all visited by either the helicopter or ground teams, however, they did not lead to any direct arrests. Interestingly, no new shooting blinds have yet been discovered this year leading to the conclusion that poachers must be changing their methods in order to avoid detection.

Aside from the regular patrolling of the K9 Unit, checking on known harbours, waterholes and high-risk areas used by poachers, there were two helicopter/K9 emergency callouts during the month, the first being a response to a theft and the second was in response to tracks of ivory poachers discovered by a KWS anti-poaching team on the Yatta. There was also an increased number of Human-Elephant Conflict cases attended to around Kanziku area during the month. Fixed wing aircrafts were called on multiple occasions to locate the elephants and then the helicopter was used to try and push them back into the Park.

Three veterinary treatments were attended to by the Aerial Unit in July. The first included an old bull elephant north of Ithumba who had 2 arrow wounds, the second involved searching for an injured rhino and the third vet case involved the transfer of Dr. Poghon to Amboseli where an elephant calf had fallen into an old pit latrine.

Outside of Tsavo, the Aerial Unit also performed patrols on Amu ranch in Lamu County, due to continued flooding, which has hampered foot and ground patrols on the 60,000-acre group ranch. Very little was found in terms of illegal activities except for one instance of logging. Since much of the area has been underwater, wildlife has also moved away and up into higher ground to the Northwest. Buffaloes in particular were not sighted at all, and only small numbers of topi and giraffe were seen. However, a lion was spotted on one patrol, which was a huge highlight, as these are so seldom sighted from the air on Amu, despite there being a healthy, diverse population.