June proved to be a month of change; the rains which have graced the greater Tsavo area in the last few months have subsided, and water has become less widespread in all corners of the park.
A consequence of the dwindling watering holes is that poaching and other illegal activities will likely be on the rise moving forwards, meaning it will be all hands-on deck for both the fixed wing and helicopter pilots.
Ground teams have been discovering more and more snares, the hot zones being around the area where the Tiva River leaves the Yatta Plateau; earlier in the month, over 60 snares were discovered in this location. Subsequent helicopter patrols proved to be highly beneficial, leading to the discovery of a harbour used by bush meat poachers (and very recently vacated). Their belongings were seized by ground teams and the harbour was destroyed. Further helicopter patrols through June discovered and destroyed another two other harbours as well.
Routine aerial patrols by DSWT pilots have also been finding old shooting blinds strategically placed next to waterholes, which are quickly destroyed by teams either on the ground or on patrol with the helicopter. The DSWT helicopter responded to a report of gunshots in the remote eastern sector of the park during the month, no carcasses were found, but there were several herds of cattle in the area; KWS dealt with this illegal intrusion.
Our eyes in the sky protect wildlife and prevent illegal activity
Charcoal production in both the Chyulus and in the Kishushe/Mbulia ranches is lower than it has been in past months, with the average number of kilns found seeming to drop with each patrol. This is very encouraging and hopefully by continuing with routine patrols in these areas, this trend will continue. The on-going KWS operation to clear the illegal marijuana plantations in the Chyulu Hills is also gaining ground.
Highlights for the month of June include a large congregation of elephants, which is always encouraging to see, a pack of four Wild dogs between the SGR and Mombasa road and two male lions eating a fairly large Crocodile near Durusikale.