Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 May 2007

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 May 2007

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Participants:

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

Area of operation:

During the month of May the Chyulu team patrolled the following areas: Kibwezi forest, Tidima, Umani Springs, Ensile, Mundi and Kaunguni.

ARRESTS 11

FINDINGS.

For the majority of the month the team was based at Kaunguni. While there the team mainly patrolled the Kibwezi forest where we were able to arrest a total of 11 people all for charcoal burning offences.

Due to the level of charcoal burning taking place and the large number of wildlife that can be found grazing in the Kibwezi forest there has been a lot of degradation of the vegetation in the area. Most of the elephants located in the Chyulu area can be found in the Kibwezi forest due to the water supply and the abundance of browse that can be found there at this time. We arrived at this conclusion due to the number of elephant footprints and droppings that we came across during our patrols daily patrols.

The Umani Springs are a source of water not only for the wildlife in the forest but also for the communities in the neighboring areas who depend on the forest and its resources, as water is scarce. The proliferation of charcoal burning and logging is very worrying as this will eventually create even greater water shortages and cause more human wildlife conflict cases. For this reason there is an urgent need to educate the communities in this area about the need to preserve their habitat.

This Kibwezi area and the forest has become a major priority in our monthly operations. We need to ensure the safety of the animals that are concentrating in this area, especially as the grazing reserves continue to dwindle due to pressure on the land. Aside from the snaring other vices such as the use of poisoned arrows is prevalent in this area. Our informers tell us that the poachers have taken to setting their snares in the evening and removing them in the early morning which explains why we have not seen much evidence of snaring taking place. As a result of this change of trend we too will now be forced to change our operative methods so as to enable us to apprehend the poachers operating in the area.

Since the inception of the Chyulu desnaring team our presence and constant vigilance in the area has resulted in a notable increase in the number of animals in the Kibwezi area which is a testament to our desnaring efforts and the pressure being put on the poachers.

In the coming months the team will begin and initiative to open more roads in the park so as to enable us to patrol more efficiently. The Kikunduku / Utu road is a crucial one, especially as snaring is expected to rise with the dry season months approaching. The Chyulu team plans to focus its efforts in the hills over the next month as the wildlife has started migrating back into the park itself.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS Soto Primary School, most of who are members of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, benefited from a School trip into Tsavo West National Park. The group were extremely exited as this was their first ever visit to a National Park and most of them had not seen much in the way of wildlife.

The students were taken to see Shetani, a Lava mountain, Mzima Springs, Chaimu Hills, Roaring Rocks, and Ngulia and Rhino Valley.

During the trip the students enjoyed encounters with Elephants, Giraffe, Zebra, several herds of Impalas and some Buffalo.

The trip benefited not only the pupils, but also the teachers and the community representatives who accompanied the students on their trip. Everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were extremely grateful to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for sponsoring the field trip. They promised to work closely with the desnaring team assisting us in our efforts to protect the wildlife and their natural resources.

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY The world environment day even took place at the visitor’s information center at Tsavo West National park. Various community members attended the occasion.

The focus of the event and the main message was the need to eradicate charcoal burning and protect the forests. The Chyulu Desnaring team attended.

SPORTS The linking of sports and conservation is a good way to educate the community about wildlife conservation. By brining together students for sports matches we can also take the opportunity to teach the community about the need to conserve their wildlife and their natural resources.

The soccer match that was organized between two youth groups was enjoyed by everyone who were able to take part in the event.

Report by James Mbuthia