Faru Team Burra Update: 01 March 2009

Faru Team Burra Update: 01 March 2009

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Participants:

Henry Lekochere – team leader Peter Wambua Ezra Mbuthia Kennedy Mungai Samuel Masaku Rajab Fundi Two KWS Rangers

Area of operation:

During the month of March, the Burra team covered the following areas: Kasaala, Mukuanima, the powerline, Chema Nyenze, Gazi towards the Athi River, and along the Athi River.

294 SNARES RECOVERED 3 ARRESTS

The team had the opportunity to camp in Ithumba (Part of Tsavo East National Park, Northern area). The operation in this area went very well. The Burra team wishes to thank The Ithumba company commander Mr. Tanui for his good coordination of duties and the allocation of two rangers for to us.

What’s known as the Northern area, is part of Tsavo east National Park, and is found North of Athi River and the Yatta plateau. The area is bushy and dominated mainly by Acacia-commiphora vegetation and the conspicuous ever green Boscia coriceae. There are also scattered tall trees all over the area. The vegetation looks undisturbed. The area is supplied with water from two big seasonal rivers the Athi River and the Tiva River both of which are where animals go to drink water.

For this reason we often find poaching taking place along the rivers. There is very little tourism in this area and for this reason poaching has become a major problem with the most affected areas being Gazi, top of Yatta plateau and along Athi River where the park borders villages.

FINDINGS During the months operations the team lifted a total of 294 snares, 259 of which targeted small game and balance targeting medium sized game. A bushbuck, a Dikdik and a baboon were found dead in snares. The team was able to arrest two poachers and one herdsman at Mukuanima and the Athi area respectively. The poachers were booked at Muthomo police station where they are awaiting sentencing.

Observable evidence:

Most of the areas patrolled during the month recorded an increase in poaching which is due to the ongoing drought being experienced all over the country. The people have therefore become more desperate and are turning to poaching to supplement their food and income.

Power line and Chema Nyenze, The team was able to lift 5 snares targeting small game during our patrols in these areas. No dead carcasses were found.

Kasaala Our patrols in the Kasaala area were concentrated along the fenceline boundary. The team visited all the major hotspots in the area. No freshly laid snares were found, but we did lift five old and inactive snares. During this time of year most of the poachers are preparing the honey season and thus any footprints seen mostly be from honey hunters.

Mukuanima For a period of two days we patrolled this area along the fenceline toward the Athi River. Both snaring and illegal livestock grazing were seen to be taking place. The team was able to arrest one herdsman and lift 94 snares, all of which targeted small game.

We also came across signs of Dikdiks having been poached in the area.

Gazi towards Athi River We patrolled this area and collected 53 snares, one targeting large game, 14 targeting medium sized game and 38 targeting small game.

We were able to arrest one man who confessed that 53 of the snares we collected had been set by him. He also told us that each poacher operating in the park has his own turf in which he sets his snares. We saw signs that a Buffalo had been recently snared and slaughtered in the area.
Athi The Athi River stretch is a crucial area for wildlife and thus attracts many poachers. We often find poachers tracks crossing the river from the community land heading towards the Yatta and downstream of the Athi where poaching is rampant. Snares are often found set along the trails leading to the river. Due to the ongoing drought most of the waterholes have dried up forcing the animals to head to the river where they are found in high numbers. We therefore consequently found a large number of snares in this area, with the team lifting a total of 195 snares during our patrols. The farms adjacent to the river are often found to harbor poachers. This is evidenced by the numerous footprints leading in and out of the farms. We have also received information that people on the farms are snaring as well as dealing in the bushmeat trade. A bushbuck, a Dikdik and a baboon were all found dead in snares.
We were able to arrest a poacher as he was about to cross the Athi River. The poacher was in possession of 50 kgs of bush meat from 1 young buffalo and 2 Dikdiks.
The man took us to the place where he had slaughtered the animal and had spent the previous night. Here we found an extra 30 kg of bush meat awaiting transportation. In his camp he also had some flour and cooking utensils.

Community outreach The team organized three ecological field trips into Tsavo East National Park.

The three schools that benefited from the field trips were Msharinyi primary school, Mzwanenyi primary school and Mwandisha primary school.
Due to the large numbers of students attending Mwandisha primary school, it benefited from two field trips. The school has over 1000 students, most of them coming from the Mwatate sisal estate, which is where one finds that their parents work. The Mashirinyi primary school students, which is in the Buchuma area, mainly come from the Maasai manyattas found along the Mombasa Nairobi highway. The communities were delighted to hear that their children would be going on a field trip into the park. The students learned a lot about wildlife and the need to conserve it and had said that they would not take their livestock to graze inside the park.
The students visited some the parks main attractions, such as Lugards falls, the Aruba dam, and the Yatta plateau. The ecological trips were successful and the students all hoped to benefit from another field trip soon.

Report by Henry Lekochere