James Mbuthia – team leader
4 KWS Rangers
Area of operation:
During the month of April the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Umani Springs, The triangle, Ngulia Hills and the Tsavo river areas.
The teams desnaring efforts during the month of April were divided into two phases
During the first phase the team was based at Umani Springs in the Kibwezi forest which is currently under the threat of deforestation due to the extensive charcoal buring taking place.
The only elephant herd surviving in the Chyulus can be found in this forest and it is thus important to ensure the security of the natural resources, such as water, shelter and foliage needed by the animals found here.
About 15kms from the forest reserve, the Chyulu team was able to arrest a gang of 15 wood carvers trying to avoid arrest by concealing themselves in a hideout. We confiscated their tools and carvings and had them booked in a neighbouring police station.
The wood carvers were in possession of mobile phones which they used to communicate with their clients, even while in the bush. The availability of cellphones will make our work harder as it makes it easier for poachers to communicate amongst themselves and alert each other about our movements. We were also able to arrest 7 charcoal burners later in the week.
Phase Two involved the mapping of Tsavo East’s triangle and Tsavo West National Parks. It entailed the visiting of both old and new poaching hotspots, the marking of waterholes, springs, and snaring areas.
A GPS was used and photographs were taken of the areas that the teams have visited and the areas that need to be readdressed. Once this information is posted on the patrol maps the information that was gathered will help The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust De-snaring teams and the KWS to plan their operations.
Report by James Mbuthia