December saw some record rainfall in some areas of Tsavo, namely the northern areas, while the southern area continued to be dry until much later in the month, with some very strong rains just before Christmas. The onset of the rains resulted in a sudden green cover across Tsavo making aerial surveillance more challenging as it is difficult to see wildlife and poachers under the canopy of leaves. Mobility of the DSWT/KWS ground teams also became a challenge as the roads in many parts were impassable.
A freshly poached carcass was sighted from the air in the northern area this month; the tusks had already been removed by the poachers, whilst another fresh carcass was found with tusks still intact near Satao. These tusks were recovered by KWS rangers.
An elephant was sighted with an arrow wound near Ithumba on December 13th. The Amboseli vet, Dr. Njoroge, was picked up from Amboseli and flown to Ithumba to treat the bull, which was darted from the DSWT helicopter and given a full chance of recovery. The rains north of the Galana River attracted large groups of elephants. Some 250 were seen together in one group near Lali Hills on the eastern side of the park. Other special sighting included a klipspringer in the Triangle, the only one seen this year. A pride of over 40 ostriches were seen near Voi, whilst a leopard with half a tail was sighted upstream of Tsavo Safari Camp.
The DSWT helicopter was active in carrying out preventative patrols on potential poacher activity during December as the rains hampered ground movements of KWS personnel and DSWT rangers. The helicopter played a crucial role in conducting spot checks on waterholes and paths in the northern area and on one occasion while operating north of the Galana River played an essential role in rescuing a stranded KWS vehicle and patrol team.
You can read more about the Aerial Unit's activities and operations in our monthly report: