James Mbuthia Julius Kyalo Daniel Lekoiten David Wambua Samuel Adero
Degradation of protected areas is a challenge that threatens the future of tourism which is one of Kenya’s main economic sectors. If Kenya looses its wildlife and natural beauty tourism will come to an end, leading to mass unemployment, huge amounts of investement lost, which will only devastate the country making poverty much worse, crime to increase and other negative factors to take hold which will eventually affect all of us. It is important that citizens realize that our future is at jeoparday if we do not protect and conserve our natural resources.
Global warming is already a major threat to the enviroment. Currently this problem is being accelerated by the rapid deforestation that is going on in the protected areas due to the increased demand for timber and charcoal.The Triangle Area of Tsavo East National park, iscurrently under great pressure from the neighbouring community around Mtito Andei area who rely heavily on this park for bush meat, charcoal and timber, although this is all illegal. The destruction of the parks resources at the Mtito Triangle area spells doom for the park as it interferes as it may take years to retore. Desnaring patrols carried out by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers are one of the security measures that have been put in to place to adress and contain threats.
Nature of the operations/Orientation
The opeations were divided into two,with some members joining Mtito Unit to boost its strength.Chyulu team leader was involved in showing the group the main hotspots in the triangle area for greater success in apprehension of poachers.The team was shown priority areas of patrol and poaching areas. This area has not been patrolled for some time and illegal acitvities were very high.
1) To assess,contain and eliminate illegal activities currently being carried out in the Triangle area(T.East N Park) and Chyulu N.Park. 2) To apprehend those involved with illegal activities. 3) To list and document all the animals that are sighted. 4) To map out poaching hot spots. 5) To dominate the areas for maximum security of wildlife.
During the month oh June the Chyulu Team patrolled in conjunction with Mtito Team in the Mtito traingle area
Mtito team :
1.James Mbuthia.-Team leader chyulu 2.Patrick Kimeu - Mtito team leader 3.James Nyumu 4.Daniel Lekoiten 5.Gerald Mwanzia 6.John Karani 7.John Lelekoiten 8.David Wambua 9.Rais Ledonyo
Chyulu team: 1.Julius Kyalo 2.Stephen Mwambi 3.Sameli Lochuraki 4.Nterito Kapina 5.Vincent Mutua
5 Arrests-Poaching 113 Snares 7- Bicycles 15 Charcoal burners
When the team went to this area there were a lot of charcoal burning activities that were going on . This is as a result of the many fresh and old kilns that the de-snaring team encountered during their patrols. The wet wood and the active kilns were destroyed so as to frustrate the charcoal burners. It was noted that both men and women are involved in charcoal burning. Fifteen Charocal burners both men & women were arrested.
Bicycle and human tracks These were evident especially on the western side which forms the border between the park and the community. They were made by the poachers and the loggers who were entering the park to carry out their illegal activities. The ones with the bicycles ventured deep into the park.Also those walking on foot poached within the triangle while some went beyond Tsavo east to T savo west national park. We presume that snaring peak period has stared and intend to increase presure on snaring hotspots. Some park fires were als evident probably started by early honey hunters.
Bush meat/ poaching
The team encountered several incidents incidents. The first involved two men caught in the kiboko area near Makindu where the team laid an ambush at night. These poachers were using lamping techniques and had killed dikdiks, lesser kudus, ostrich and a wildebeest.
Following this arrest 2 more bush meat poachers were caught in the triangle area. One had killed a bufallo using poisoned arrows and was in the process of slaughtering it for sale in the market.
The team lifted a total of 113 snares during their patrols. The majority of the snares targeted the dikdiks, buffaloes and lesser kudu.
This activity is going on within the triangle area. The team found clear evidence of this due to the presence of human footprints and climbing hooks on the trunks of the boabob trees which house the bees. The honey hunters often set fires in the park and are a threat during fire danger periods.
Students from Athi Mixed Secondary School and Isunguluni primary school were taken on a trip to the Tsvo West Narional Park where they had a chance to sample nature at its very best. The team leader explained the the importance of conserving the environment as well as the role of trees in the hydrological cycle. The trips are aimed at increasing the students desire to be better conservationsts and work harder in school.
There is a lot to be done in the triangle, this area has been somewhat neglected and it is of utmost importance that the Trust regains control of the area. Both bush meat and ivory poachers access the park through the triangle area making it a very important focus area for aggressive patrols. Many footprints were found in the triangle, and a lot of information was gathered from informers indicate that people are operating both during the day and at night. It is important therefore for stakeholders to be vigilant and take the protection of this area as a serious job. Effective community conservation awareness and empowerment progams should be put in place to mitigate those challenges.
Report by, Karani John/James mbuthia.