Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 February 2009

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 February 2009

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Participants:

James Mbuthia – team leader Julius Kyalo David Wambua Isaiah Ndei Daniel Lekoiten 2 KWS rangers

Area of operation:

During the month of February the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Gazi, Kanani, Kiboko and KARI

ARRESTS 6 • 3 Bush meat poachers. • 3 Charcoal burners.

115 SNARES

OPERATION OBJECTIVES.

• To strike the Gazi hotspots which are currently without a desnaring team and monitor the poaching situation. • To gather the necessary intelligence and obtain information on poaching trends in the area. • To design the patrol process and finally apprehend those indulging in illegal activities. • To examine and dominate the poaching hotspots in the target areas. • To suggest the appropriate strategies to alleviate the illegal vices.

INTRODUCTION. The loss of biodiversity in the country and particularly in the Tsavo Conservation area has reached shocking levels. Consumptive utilization of wild flora and fauna has far reaching social-economic and ecological implications. Animal loss through poaching, especially though snaring, lamping, bows and arrows is very high. Without animals, the tourism industry will most likely collapse leading to unemployment. The current food crisis has affected wildlife seriously in that people are now turning to it as source of food to supplement their diet. More people are being arrested in the park and the ranches for commercial bush meat trade offences. Trade in ivory is also very high and the African elephant is once again under threat. Poachers are being financed by those who benefit with the business at the international market. Illegal logging, charcoal burning and over harvesting of trees for herbal medicine or wood carving is astonishing. Since the challenge is already with us, it is Important for the relevant stakeholders to complement each other and fight the vices from a common front.

FINDINGS

Gazi-Tsavo East

The Gazi area that once had a full time desnaring team is an important poaching hotspot. The team patrolled along the river from Cotters to Gazi and arrested 2 bush meat poachers.

They were sighted as they crossed the river from the Mwakila area heading towards the Yatta. 115 snares were lifted, from small to large snares as well as bird traps.
Generally the area was a serious hotspot with reported cases of elephant poaching which we were unfortunately unable to confirm.

KARI / Kanani

This operation was a follow up of last month poaching report in the same area. Being a lamping period the team had to patrol during the day and ambush during the night. The team arrested one bush meat poacher within the KARI / Kanani area.

The poacher was together with 5 other poachers all of whom escaped in different directions. The extent at which bush meat is being harvested is quite astonishing as the drought continues to bite. Poaching in the ranches has been reported. The team chased a gang of 10 poachers who were heading towards Ikoyo, past the railway line. We could not catch up with them. The team will be re visiting the same area next month.

Kiboko Our patrols of Kiboko were aimed at monitoring the human wildlife conflict, especially the conflict between people and elephants. Reported cases of the spearing elephants as they destroyed crops could not be ruled out. We monitored the herds, while carrying out our desnaring activities. During a night ambush a gang of 4 poachers took a route away from us and were able to evade arrest. However, the team managed to arrest 3 charcoal burners.

ANIMAL SIGHTINGS During the month’s patrols hartebeest, elephants, baboons, zebras and other wildlife were seen. The animals were sighted at different isolated positions due to the pressure by livestock. However, most of the elephants seen were concentrated near Umani springs.

CURRENT SITUATION. Due to the prolonged drought, the competition for grass between wildlife and livestock is very high. Pressure on national parks has boxed animals into certain areas putting a strain on the available resources. This causes an increase in human wildlife conflict as animals move out of protected areas in search of food and water. It is practically impossible to think about a single habitat that has not been modified by human culture. Populations of species can only survive if they have large enough habitats and/or enough possibilities to interact with other populations. Due to fragmentation of their habitats as a result of changes in land use, many species in Kenya have disappeared or may disappear in the near future. Good landscape connectivity will give species a better chance of survival. Man now poses the biggest threat to our existing wildlife. Unless modes of operation are customized to face the current challenges human beings will finally decimate wildlife. Security of the wildlife remains the greatest challenge in this country.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS The support of awareness and involvement of the public in nature conservation is vital in order to be able to reach the conservation targets. The decline of nature can only be stopped when the interaction between the people involved in nature conservation is intensified, and common ground is found, something that The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is involved in.

NGULUNI DESK DONATIONS. The school benefited with 30 desks from the trust on 20/02/09. During the function, the area chief, and community members attended in large numbers. At the function they expressed their thanks and promised to support our conservation objectives.

KITHASYO PRIMARY SCHOOL TRIP On 24/02/09 the school benefited with a school trip to Tsavo west national park. The pupils visited the information centre, Shetani lava, Chaimu hills, Mzima springs, Rhino valley, Roaring rocks, and the Ngulia Bandas.

During the trip the pupils learnt about different kinds of animals which they had never seen. The trip was a memorable day in the student’s lives.

MAIKUU SECONDARY SCHOOL. The school benefited with an excursion to Tsavo west national park. The trip was the first one for the school and was aimed at reaching the youth. They visited Shetani lava, Mzima springs Chaimu hill, and Mzima springs, Rhino valley, and the Ngulia Bandas.

They saw a large variety of wildlife during the trip which was immensely enjoyed by everyone who attended.

Report by James Mbuthia