Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 December 2009

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 December 2009

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Participants

James Mbuthia Julius Kyalo Daniel Lekoiten John Wahome Samuel Adero Peter Wambua David Wambua

Introduction The pressure by the people on protected areas is a constant challenge to conservation. The illegal exploitation of natural resources will in the long run affect local communities and the country as a whole as they are short term solutions to ever recurring problems. While the efforts of conservation organizations are notable, the underlying drivers to these problems need to be constantly investigated and acted on.

Patrol objectives • To identify illegal activities in the forest • To map the area and mark snaring spots • To document project findings • To lift snares and apprehend those engaged in illegal activities

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered included the Kibewzi forest, and KARI ranch at Makindu

45 SNARES COLLECTED 19 ARRESTS – 4 Bushmeat poachers

15 Charcoal burners

INTRODUCTION With the onset of the heavy rains, the poaching activities are bound to change. This is due to the fact that some poachers take advantage of the rains to plant their crops and tend to their lands. Human wildlife conflict in terms of animals moving into community lands reduces as there is now enough food and water for them in the park. Vegetation becomes denser and snares are harder to see as they are covered by the new foliage.

Kibwezi forest The team patrolled the Kibwezi forest and were able to arrest 15 charcoal burners at isolated points around the Kenze and Wayani areas.

About 25 sacks of charcoal and 12 charcoal kilns were destroyed as well as several tools confiscated during the operation.
The demand for charcoal in Nairobi, especially during this wet period, has put added pressure on both the forest and the park. The team in the company of KWS rangers and the forester on charge work tirelessly to apprehend and frustrate the charcoal burners in order to control this vice. The forester is working closely with local administration and KWS in an effort to conduct a major charcoal raid along the Mombasa highway in order to cripple the financial base of the sellers and make the business unsustainable. The support form the forester and the forest guards has been a big help. We are also engaging the local communities and teaching them about the need to leave the forest intact and allow it to regenerate.

KARI The patrol of the KARI ranch was done in order to carry out an impromptu visit on a poaching hotspot. The team sneaked into the ranch and set up camp for the period of a week. The hideouts and operations area had been last visited in October and several bushmeat poachers had been arrested.

During our patrols we discovered that the hideouts continue to be active with the gang operating in the park but sleeping in the ranch hideouts.
Since the onset of the rains animals have begun migrating back into the park. The poachers often follow the animals in order to achieve a higher snaring success rate. The team in conjunction with KWS rangers laid an ambush at the hideouts and were able to arrest 4 bushmeat poachers in possession of snares.
Unfortunately another 2 poachers were able to evade arrest. The team also confiscated 2 bicycles, a spear and 45 snares which targeted large and medium sized game.
Upon interrogation the poachers revealed that there several gangs operating in the various hotspots. The fact that the team was able to arrest poachers during what should be a time for planting crops shows that poaching has become more of a commercial business than a subsistence activity.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS The development of woodlots on the community lands will reduce the overdependence of communities on the forest and parks for wood fuel and charcoal and hopefully provide a long term solution to the problem.

As part of a tree planting project the team distributed 200 seedlings for planting to the community at Nduti near the Kibwezi forest. The trees will provide shade to the naked homesteads.

The team leader organized a video show at Usalama shopping center which was attended by community members.

We have witnessed an attitudinal change among the public who are leaning towards more environmentally friendly practices. The Kibwezi community group visited Umani Springs where they were given a talk about the need to protect the water catchment areas.

Report by James Mbuthia