James Mbuthia – team leader
5 KWS Rangers
Area of operation:
During the month of April the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Mwailu, Makindu, Ikoyo, Kaunguni, Mukululo, Boma 8, Mathayoni, Kima Kiu, Satellite and Kenzili.
47 SNARES RECOVERED
OVERVIEW CHYULU ECOSYSTEM
The Chyulu National park is a catchment area and a number of rivers such as Mankind, Kombi, Thange, and Mtito have their source in the Chyulus. The Chyulus is covered by isolated forest and has numerous hills that make it a very beautiful area.
It has a rich and abundant variety of wildlife such as Elands, Hartebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Gnus, Thomson’s, Gazelles, Elephants and Rhinos. It is surrounded by the Kamba community on the North and the Massai on the South. These two tribes have different attitudes towards wildlife. The Kambas are agriculturalists, hunters and gatherers, whilst the Maasai are pastoralists. However both communities exert pressure on the park. We were able to identify a number of problems in the park which include Poaching, through snaring and lamping, Charcoal burning,
Miraa (Khat) harvesting, Cattle grazing, East African Sandalwood harvesting which has been greatly reduced by KWS, and Logging.
The month of April was the official beginning of the Chyulu de-snaring team which has been commissioned to fully operate in the park.
The team has chosen Mukurulo and Kithasyo as its main operational bases. Being the rainy reason the weather made our work harder. We were however able to arrest 14 people for a variety of offences such as Miraa harvesting and Logging.
The team has been able to uncover a number of caves that the poachers use as hideouts.
The team had to walk long distances over rocks due to the poor road network in the park. Instead of having to return to our camp every evening we were able to use the caves for shelter.
We were able to set ambushes on the main tracks and at various observation posts. The ambushes were well coordinated and very useful. 4 bicycles carrying bushmeat,
2 torches and horns, 2 pangas and 2 slashers were confiscated from K.A.R.I ranch which is a buffer to the park.
The bicycles belonged to lampers who operate from the Makindu and Ikoyo areas.
The bushmeat was from slaughtered Reedbuck and Dikdiks.
Miraa harvesting is a big business in the Chyulus. Almost all the miraa that is sold from Sultan Hamud to Mombasa comes from the Chyulus.
Miraa harvesting is connected with other illegal activities such as snaring and charcoal burning. 10 miraa harvesters
and 4 loggers were arrested during the course of the month. A lorry that was being used to ferry the logs was intercepted on its way to the park. The loggers operate form the Birikani area and a great threat to the park as it is a catchment area and provides water to many communities.
The animals in the park are predominantly migratory moving for the Chyulus to Maasai land during the rainy season. Even through the neighboring ranches have game scouts the team will closely monitor the movements of the animals especially when they are outside the protected area. We observed that there was not a high number of snares in the park as 90% of the animals have migrated to the ranches and the surrounding environs. The heavy rains means that people are busy in their farms which could also account for the small number of snares. We did however lift 47 snares. Next months operations will target the ranches as this is where the majority of the wildlife can be found at present.
Report by James Mbuthia