Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 April 2008

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 April 2008

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Participants:

James Mbuthia – team leader Julius Kyalo David Wambua Isaiah Ndei Daniel Lekoiten 7 KWS rangers

Area of operation:

During the month of April the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Ngulia, Mgange, Rhino valley, Ndawe, Mungai hill, Roaring rocks, Chyulu gate, Kilanguni, Chaimu, Mzima springs, Kenani, Mathayoni, Kibwezi forest, Umani springs, Kisyula caves, Satellite, Bonhams, Mukurulo and Klinyet.

ARRESTS 2 23 SNARES COLLECTED

FINDINGS

The Extensive Protection Zone (EPZ) – Tsavo West At the request of the Senior Warden and the company commander the team was called from the Chyulu base at Klinyet to assist in an operation taking pace in Tsavo West National Park in Rhino valley, Kilanguni, Chaimu, Mzima springs and Kenai where rhinos are to be released back into their former ranging and breeding areas such as Rhino valley.

The team’s purpose in this operation was to rece the area and ensure that the valley and its environs was free from snares and poachers.

Our operation team was made up of the desnaring team members and 7 KWS rangers. Together with the senior warden we patrolled around the lodges checking to make sure that the staff are not poaching and ensure that the management was managing their waste properly. The patrols were organized and planned by the team leader who led the group through all the probably hotspots and areas frequented by poachers. While moving along the base of the Ndawe hills a track showing sings of recent use was seen.

A herd of elephants was spotted at the lower end of the valley heading toward the roaring rocks. Every entrance to the range and spring were checked to ensure there were no snares in the area. We followed the most frequented tracks enmeshing both Rhino valley and the Ngulia range.
We noticed that most of the animals, including elephants have moved to other areas of the park due to the availability of vegetation and water. We patrolled the area for 4 days and found that it was safe. The team also patrolled around Mungai hill checking all neighboring waterholes. After extensive patrols all the areas were deemed to be safe.

The team later relocated to Kilaguni which a snaring hotspot and a transit area for poachers going to the Tsavo River or Mzima springs. It is also a major logging area and it was important to ensure that there were no illegal activities taking place in and around Kilaguni. A big track leading through the Chyulu gate and the lava needs to be regularly checked for snares. The team then patrolled along Mzima springs from the source towards Rhodesia Bridge. During our patrols a lot of wildlife were spotted. We have heard reports that there is a cave in the area that serves as a hideout for poachers. We were however unable to find it due to the heavy rains and will therefore continue to look for the cave at a later date.

The team then moved its operations to the Kenani area which is another poaching hotspot. The area is used for both logging and snaring.

Allegedly poachers can even use public means to transport their catch and timber to either Mtito or Voi. Many footprints were seen, especially around the waterholes, but few snares were recovered.
Fresh footprints, believed to be from a poacher or honey hunter were found leading to the Tsavo River.
The team was able to lift 11 snares while patrolling this area. The rangers working with the team were recalled for a major security deployment after receiving a banditry report. The team therefore had to cut its operations short and went back to its Chyulu base.

Kibwezi forest While camping at the Kithasyo park headquarters the team patrolled the Umani springs area. Elephant droppings were seen but no elephants were sighted. The team also checked around the Umani pool where they lifted 12 snares all of which targeted medium sized game. The team continued to patrol the area and arrested 2 charcoal burners hiding out in a cave which they had converted into a hideout.

The charcoal burners are able to stay in the cave for weeks at a time while they carry out their charcoal burning activities.
We destroyed the offender’s kilns and belongings. Another cave was discovered but no more arrests were made.

Road works The road that leads to Kisyula is now complete making it easier for tourists to access and see the caves as well and making it easier for us to carry out our patrols.

The road meanders through beautiful landscapes giving a lovely view of the lower edge of the park boundary and its environs.

Report by James Mbuthia