James Mbuthia – team leader Julius Kyalo David Wambua Isaiah Ndei Daniel Lekoiten 2 KWS rangers
Area of operation:
During the month of January the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Umani springs, Kibwezi forest, Kenzili, Kaunguni, Tindima and KARI. .
ARRESTS 19 • 4 Bush meat poachers. • 2 Loggers. • 2 Wood carvers. • 11 Charcoal burners.
• To investigate the truth about a report of alleged gunshots heard near Umani Camp late in December 2008. • To gather the necessary intelligence and give a report on the security situation on the ground. • To establish a patrol procedure, together with KWS, Bonham Game scouts and the Mtito desnaring team in order to apprehend those indulging in illegal activities around Umani, Kibwezi forest/Kenze, Kenzili, Kaunguni and Tindima areas. • To examine, and dominate the poaching hotspots, as well as gather information on the poaching trends in the target areas. • To suggest appropriate strategies that could be used to alleviate the vices.
INTRODUCTION As the scale of habitat destruction continues to multiply so have human efforts to vigilantly protect what is left by applying ecological principles to safeguard, legislate, evaluate and manage fragile ecosystems and their declining species.
All natural resources custodians must look at biodiversity according to the following perspectives: What is happening? What is being done? What should be done? It is however important to recognize the dependency people have on natural resources. That dependency should be such that it is sustainable in order to avoid their depletion. Where resources have been depleted, then ecosystem restoration is necessary. Where species have been poached translocation from other ranging areas for reintroduction is quite necessary. Umani Springs was a haven of waterbucks which have now been completely wiped out by poaching. Following persistent drought being experienced in Ukambani and the surrounding environs people are starving and hence poaching trends are becoming even more sophisticated. The use of arrows, snares and lamping are being used interchangeably by the poachers in order to succeed in killing animals. The off take of bush meat by the poachers through these methods is quite astonishing. This calls for a concerted effort between relevant stakeholders in order to contain these vices. Joint operations and well networked information gathering are some of the strategies that are being employed to contain the situation in the Tsavo conservation area and specifically Chyulu National Park and its environs. FINDINGS
UMANI SPRINGS/KISULA CAVES
The team patrolled the area around Umani springs and lifted 22 snares targeting bush buck. The skin of freshly slaughtered bush buck was also found.
KARI / KIMOOINI
Following a tip off from one of our informers we decided to patrol the Kimooini area. We had received information that a gang of 4 bush meat poachers had killed a buffalo and were actively hawking meat in the village.
KENZE AREA / KIBWEZI FOREST
Charcoal burning in the Kenze area is still high due to the prolonged drought that continues to be experienced in the area.
During the patrols hartebeest, elephants, baboons, zebras and other wildlife were seen. The animals were sighted at different isolated positions due to the pressure from livestock. The elephants were concentrated near Umani springs.
SENSITIVE REPORTS The alleged report of gunshots heard around Umani camp towards the end of December last year could not be forgotten and investigations into the matter are ongoing. The team is dominating the area in order to establish the truth and finally apprehend the poachers.
The patrol of Kaunguni area was meant to confirm the alleged rumour of a poached rhino. After intensive patrols and information gathering it was established that the information was false and misreported. This called for caution and proper channelling of information.
It is practically impossible to think about a single habitat that has not been modified by human culture, either by the deliberate dismantling of its food chains or by pollution at a distance. Even landscapes that from a far vantage point appear to be free of human interference; will probably be found, on closer inspection, to some form of human activity. Populations of species can only survive if they have large enough habitats and/or enough possibilities to interact with other populations. Due to the 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.
Report by James Mbuthia