Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 June 2009

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 June 2009

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De – Snaring Report for June 09

Participants:

James Mbuthia – team leader Julius Kyalo David Wambua Daniel Lekoiten Samuel Adero Noah Lesmirdana John Wahome 2 KWS rangers

Area of operation:

During the month of June the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Umani and the Kibwezi forest

ARRESTS • 2 Charcoal burners. • 3 Grass harvesters • 2 poachers

34 SNARES

OPERATION OBJECTIVES.

• To intensively patrol Umani springs area and Kibwezi forest to ensure maximum security of wildlife. • To generally dominate the areas establish the security situation on the ground.

INTRODUCTION.

Mounting evidence shows that competition for natural resources including fish, water, trees and wildlife contributes to violent conflicts in many areas affected by inequalities and in effective governance. These conflicts may increase in coming decades, particularly where shortages of water, forests and fertile land become more severe. The social effects on the local population are cumulative: large-scale migration, political instability and economic downturns that in turn may lead to ethnic strife, civil war and different forms of social conflict. Poor management of resources and unequal distribution of existing resources lead to vulnerable forest-dependent communities suffering most. The resulting tensions can lead to armed conflict and even war. Changing rainfall patterns will make land that previously was most appropriate for pastoralist more appropriate for agriculture thereby leading to conflict over land use between different types of farming communities.

FINDINGS

UMANI CAMP AND KIBWEZI FOREST

The patrols during the month of June where a continuation if last month’s patrol efforts. Kibwezi forest and Umani area were revisited to ensure maximum security of wildlife and forest in particular. Around the Umani springs 3 grass harvesters were intercepted and arrested. This is a common phenomenon due to the prolonged draught affecting the area.

The breeding of the bush bucks is very high and the sightings are being recorded. However the large abundance of the animals is a characteristic example of what the team has achieved over the short time we have been at Umani. Large elephant herds’ roaming freely in the forest shows that there is enough security of wildlife. Recently we also witnessed new immigrants coming from the hills, a scenario that has never been seen before. More wildlife is travelling to the Umani Springs area from long distances in search of water. Along the forest boundary towards kenze and Wayani areas, 34 Snares were collected which had been freshly set. 4 charcoal kilns 2 charcoal burners were also arrested. 2 poachers were arrested around Kenze with snares and wood carving tools. Wood Carving is a very common offence in the Chyulu areas as the locals are trying to make a livelihood off the tourist shops using Indigenous wood cut illegally from the forests.
A group of 3 young men were arrested harvesting grass at the source of the springs. They were handed over to the area chief to be reprimanded. As mentioned last month the grass is being sold to the rich back in the villages and now is a lucrative business. This extraction of grass has a far reaching ecological implication because wildlife is left without food and can lead to starvation. One head-load of grass costs 200 shillings. People have now shifted to grass harvesting from charcoal burning due our persistent pressure on the hot spots. The team leader & forest officer talked to them on the dangers of their actions. Towards the end of the month, an abandoned elephant calf was sighted at the area of Kuku ranch. The team rushed to the area in an effort to rescue it but sadly it died. The current draught could have contributed to its death; the calf was in a very poor state and had obviously been alone for some time.

UMANI CAMP.

The camp area and the springs is a haven for animals that enjoy the security provided by the team and the availability if water & food. The improvement camp frontage and the lawns attract a lot of wildlife including the elephants.

ANIMAL SIGHTINGS.

During the patrols elephants, buffaloes, baboons and birds among others were seen. However the elephants were concentrated near Umani springs. Animals continue to flourish due intensified security. Zebras have also been sighted.

CURRENT SITUATION.

Wood collection and cattle grazing are legally allowed in the forest reserve, as a sign of good will for the neighboring communities. Women are regularly found carrying fire wood while herdsmen are required to pay to the forest office to be legally allowed into the forest. Charcoal burners are losing the battle due to our intensified patrols.

POACHING TRENDS

Snaring and wood carving are still taking place interchangeably because both are commercial activities. The two wood carvers that were arrested had snares targeting bushbucks.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS.

The month was a busy one with a lot of community engagement in effort to improve the environmental education level of the communities and try to improve the current situation. In order for the Team to have an impact in trying to tackle human wildlife conflict, destruction of resources and poaching there must be participatory type approach in nature, where local communities become part of that effort. By doing so they own that project and if they succeed they will have a sense of empowerment and self reliance which will hopefully drive local community initiatives to protect their resources.

KITHEINI DESKS DONATION.

The school located along the Chyulu park boundary received 30 desks from the Trust as one of our support initiatives. The parents, teachers and pupils were very grateful of that gesture as many had no place to sit on. They also promised to participate fully in ensuring the safety of wildlife and other conservation initiatives.

FOREST CONSERVATION COMMITTEE.

As stated earlier people at grass root levels are now being actively involved in our conservation initiatives. The forester, team leader and the warden Chyulu organized a meeting at the forest office inviting people neighboring the forest for an awareness meeting. At this meeting the stake holders formed a Stakeholders Committee which will be working closely with us. This committee was tasked with reporting any illegal activity as well as serving as an entry point for reaching more people at the grass roots.

SPORTS DAY

Sport is an important tool to raise Conservation interest amongst the local communities and bettering the relationship between the Team members and the local communities, especially to fully reach young people. The Team needs to reach more youth because they have energy and can easily tend to illegal activities and of course are also the future generation which will hopefully protect their country’s resources. Sports equipment donation should be extended to the youth.

Report by James Mbuthia