Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 June 2007

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 June 2007

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Participants:

James Mbuthia – team leader Nicodemus Kivindyo Julius Kyalo Nasarwa Esimegele David Wambua Isaiah Ndei 2 KWS Rangers

Area of operation:

During the month of June the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Kaunguni, Kenzili, Umani Springs, Kibwezi forest, Metava, Mukurulo, Tindima and the Kisyula caves.

ARRESTS 15 SNARES 84

FINDINGS

The team operational bases during the month of June were Kaunguni and Kithasyu.

While at Kaunguni we patrolled a large area on foot covering the hills and the poacher’s penetration points. We were able to arrest 4 Miraa harvesters during our patrols
and suspect that the forest fires evident in the Chyulus are being set by Miraa harvesters, Cattle grazers or bushmeat poachers. The purpose of the fires is to lead to the germination of fresh grass which is palatable to both the wildlife and cattle, leading to the aggregation of animals in those areas making it easier to snare them.

Charcoal Burning Charcoal burning continues to be the biggest threat that faces the Chyulu ecosystem. The wanton destruction of the forest through tree felling is very high, particularly in the Kibwezi forest. While patrolling this area, 9 people were arrested in possession of charcoal and various tools.

Charcoal burners are active in the early morning, or late evening. Occasionally they even operate at night. They use their bicycles and their backs to ferry charcoal out of the forest. The degradation of the Kibwezi forest is causing it to open up thus causing the wetlands to dry up. One of the side effects of this destruction is the movement of wildlife from the forest to the community lands which leads to human wildlife conflict. Charcoal burning is not a sustainable business.

The team also carried out patrols in the Kisula areas where we were able to arrest 2 wood carvers. In March this year we had arrested 13 people for the same offence. We have noticed that there has been a decline in the number of wood carvers in the area, who must have moved to other areas after the March arrests.

Snaring During the teams patrols around Umani springs we were able to lift 50 snares.

40% of the snares targeted small game, 46% targeted medium sized game and 14% targeted large game.
All of the snares recovered were active. We also came across a poacher’s hideout where we found the remains of a butchered buffalo.
We believe the poacher had already gone to sell the rest of the meat and for that reason we remained in the area for several days hoping to arrest the poacher upon his return. However the poacher did not show up.

The team later patrolled the Satellite area where the animals are enticed by the fresh grass that has sprouted after the burning of the vegetation in the area. Here we were able to lift 23 snares targeting large game. We also came across the carcasses of elands and forest hogs.

Our patrols were then moved to the Mukurulo area which is another poaching hotspot. A further 11 snares were lifted in this area. There has been an increase in the number of animals around Mukurulo where large herds of Elands, Kongonis and Giraffes have been spotted.

The month was a busy one with the team overseeing the rehabilitation of the Kikunduki-Utu circuit. Seven casuals are on the ground manually opening the road.

They are closely supervised by the Team leader. Once the rehabilitation is completed the team will be able to easily patrol the hotspots and areas that otherwise would not have been accessible

COMMUNITY AWARENESS The team has vigorously embarked on awareness community campaigns targeting the young people in the area, as most of the arrests fall within this age bracket. It is important to address the socio-economic problems facing the youths and advise them of alternative forms of livelihood in an effort to reduce the pressure on the forest and the park.

Report by James Mbuthia