Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 March 2009

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 March 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 March the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Kiboko, KARI, Umani camp and the Kibwezi forest

ARRESTS 8 • 2 Bush meat poachers. • 1 Wood carver • 3 Charcoal burners.

104 SNARES

OPERATION OBJECTIVES.

• To patrol the lamping areas around Kiboko and KARI and monitor the poaching situation. • To gather the necessary intelligence and obtain information on poaching trends in the ranches. • To design the patrol process and finally apprehend those carrying out illegal activities. • To examine and dominate the poaching hotspots in the target areas. • To suggest the appropriate strategies to alleviate the vices.

INTRODUCTION. ‘Conservation tends to be for idealists who care about natural the world and would like to see some of it salvaged from the harmful influence of man. When this means demanding that legal protection be given to rare species, their job is difficult enough; when it means demanding that land be set aside to safeguard a remnant of the natural world, conservationists are up against both ideological and economic opposition’ (Joffe, 1969) However to achieve a natural balance, conservationists and development agents must understand that economic development and sound environmental management are complementary. Without adequate environmental protection, development will be undermined, and without development protection of environment will fail (World Bank, 1992). It is therefore clear that conservation needs development and development needs conservation. In order to realize development without compromising conservation objectives it is necessary that community enterprises be established in the ranches, e.g. eco-lodges to earn revenue, and some of the money realized supporting game scouts to enhance the security of wildlife. For the communities that neighbor protected areas like the parks, it is necessary to initiate projects that alleviate poverty by addressing the root causes. These approaches will benefit the people; conserve the environment and the remaining biodiversity. People are poor not because they are lazy, they have potentials, and all we need to do is to empower them to realize those potentials. The biggest challenge in the ranches is that the rich biodiversity is manipulated with ease and without control. Communities may not know the value of their rich bio diversity unless they are shown that value. Illegal activities like charcoal burning and the bush meat trade are slowly being introduced to the pastoral areas by the Kamba people. Owing to the economic value of wildlife it is important that conservation awareness campaigns be extended to the communities within and outside of the ranches. The development of eco lodges can only be possible in areas that have wildlife. These lodges can help communities financially and still boost employment. This calls for cooperation between communities and wildlife protection agencies.

FINDINGS

KARI/KIBOKO. The Klinyet River flows through the ranches from Ngong to Athi after Kiboko. Being a seasonal river the springs are about 2kms from Kiboko, where the poaching hotspots are situated.

Arrow shooting from hideouts as animals come to drink water and snaring are very effective poaching methods and are the ones being used by poachers at this time.
The month’s operation was a follow up from last month. Being a lamping period the team had to patrol during the day and ambush during the night. The team arrested one bush meat poacher along Klinyet River. Tactically the poacher sets the snares at the source of the springs late in the evening and removes them at dawn. After persistent pressure on the hotspot the poacher was finally apprehended at 5.00 am and booked at Makindu police station.
Observation posts were set periodically in the ranches but no arrests were made. The team has found that snaring and lamping are being used by the poachers interchangeably. The carcasses of one giraffe and an elephant carcase were found along Klinyet River.
Our patrols along the Kilnyet further established that the river is under threat from degradation caused by charcoal burning. Several kilns were destroyed during our patrols in the above areas. A total of 64 snares targeting big game were lifted.
A mature male buffalo was rescued at the Kiboko River. The buffalo had become stuck in the mud while drinking water. Members of the community were helpful in pulling it out of the river, something which we found to be very positive as this area is often one of human wildlife conflict due to the number of farms found near the river.

TRIANGLE ENCOUNTER The Chyulu team leader, James Mbuthia, made an impromptu visit to the Kaluku base for an official assignment. On the way he came across 2 poachers crossing the road with bush meat. Together with the Mtito team leader they were able to catch up with the poachers and arrest one of them who was in possession of 4 dead Dikdiks. The poacher was booked at Mtito Andei police station.

UMANI CAMP AND KIBWEZI FOREST PATROLS. Our patrols of Umani springs and the surrounding environs were carried out with the purpose of checking on the security of the animals, especially the elephants, buffaloes and small mammals that are found in the area. During our patrols several snares were lifted which targeted medium sized game. The team has noticed that there have been fresh shooting platforms erected in the forests as well as fresh spikes, new hideouts and several arrows being found near the springs.

All of if this points towards the presence of elephant poachers in the forest. The team therefore needs to intensify its patrols in the area in order to apprehend the culprits. As the drought continues to bite reports of rhinos moving towards the springs from Mukurulo have been received. The team is carefully checking the mud wallows around the springs and the pools to ensure that there are not snares. Charcoal burning is also going on in the forest. During the patrols men, women and children were found in the forest burning charcoal which shows that the forest and its ecosystem is constantly under threat.
Another sad fact is that children are being denied the chance of an education. The area yielded 41 snares targeting medium game.

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

CURRENT SITUATION. 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. The security of our wildlife continues to be the greatest challenge in this country. The poaching of elephants is going on around the water points, such as Umani Springs. Carcasses were spotted at Kiboko. Arrows and shooting platforms were seen at Umani area, all of which are good indicators that something is not right.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS. Maasai solidarity wildlife. The support of the people in nature conservation is an important strategy that should be encouraged by all stakeholders in the conservation circle. Conservation agendas will be addressed if the community’s that harbor wildlife benefit from it. A baraza was held between Maasai elders and the team leader at Oltukai primary school. The objective of the baraza was to bring the trust and the Maasai into partnership in an effort to protect the wildlife from poachers. They resolved to cooperate with us but did mention the problems that they faced on a daily basis, such as the lack of water.

Kithasyo youth club. The Kithasyo youth club invited us to give them a video show on conservation. The youth club has a very good sports team which has opened an avenue through which the Trust can reach them and teach them about conservation. After the show a lot of discussions were held. The youth expressed their concerns about the pressures being put on the forest by people. They promised to give us any information that they could about anyone involved in the degradation of the forest’s habitat and environment.

Report by James Mbuthia