With the exception of a few scattered rain showers signalling the approach of the rainy season, September has been predictably dry. This, of course, has led to a significant increase in poaching activity in the DSWT’s areas of operation across Tsavo East National Park (NP), Tsavo West NP, the Chyulu Hills NP, Kibwezi Forest as well as Meru NP in northern Kenya. The new DSWT ranger recruits have blended into their new teams well after graduating from KWS Manyani Training Academy in July this year, giving additional strength to the anti-poaching operations. 759 snares were discovered and removed during the month, 153 of which were confiscated from poachers before they had a chance to set them. This rise in snaring activity is expected during the driest months of the year, as there is little activity on bordering communities’ farms before the rains, which are due in early November.
The establishment of a new mobile anti-poaching team, which is currently based in Meru National Park, has proved to be a very positive development. The team, working in close cooperation with the Meru Park KWS management and rangers, has recovered 292 snares and captured three poachers this month.
A total of 32 arrests were made overall during the month including 9 bush meat poachers, 1 ivory poacher, 8 herders, 7 loggers, 5 charcoal burners, and 2 firewood collectors. Three elephant carcasses were investigated by DSWT/KWS ground teams; one was sighted by the DSWT helicopter on the banks of the Athi River, whilst a follow up by the ground team determined that it was a tusk-less elephant that had died of unknown causes. Of the other two carcasses, one was sighted by the Super Cub where the cause of death was unknown but most likely due to an arrow (tusks were recovered), whilst the third elephant carcass was found by a DSWT/KWS ground team and the tusks were recovered and delivered to KWS. It is likely that this elephant was a victim of a poisoned arrow.
Fourteen elephants were sighted from the air, darted from the helicopter and treated for injuries including fresh to old arrow wounds. Two DSWT anti-poaching teams assisted in these darting operations and are becoming quite efficient in assisting the mobile vet units in treatment of up to four elephants in a day which requires good coordination and teamwork.