Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 May 2009

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 May 2009

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Participants:

James Mbuthia – team leader Julius Kyalo David Wambua Daniel Lekoiten 2 KWS rangers

Area of operation:

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

ARRESTS 11

• 2 Charcoal burners. • 9 Grass harvesters

64 SNARES

OPERATION OBJECTIVES.

• To intensively patrols at both the Umani springs area and the Kibwezi in an effort to ensure the security of the wildlife. • To generally dominate the areas in way of presence and patrols to establish security on the ground.

INTRODUCTION. The harvesting of biological resources is probably the oldest economic activity known to man. The resources are needed to sustain life as well as to maintain and enhance economic strength. The management of natural resources is the frontline of the struggle for more sustainable and equitable development. All of mans actions ultimately impact the quality and quantity of the planet’s natural resources. Environmental degradation is one of the first indicators of unsustainable social and economic systems. As populations increase and we seek to improve the welfare of the people we consequently increase the pressure on the planets resources. In order to try and break this negative cycle there would need to be a meeting of minds and a cooperation of cultures and nations. Failure to manage the planets resources sustainbly and equitably will only lead to disaster and conflicts, such as the water wars that have started due to the decrease in the water coming from the highlands. Forests are centers of biodiversity and play a key role in the hydrological cycle and carbon storage. Rather than waiting for the next disaster to remind the world of the true value of forests, forest conservation must become a central part of disaster resilience and human security strategies. As without the forests and the plants nothing can survive.

FINDINGS

UMANI CAMP AND KIBWEZI FOREST While based at Umani camp the team patrolled the whole of the Kibwezi forest in order to ensure the security of the wildlife found there. There was no evidence of human activity taking place around the springs and its environs. The people that used to get water from the springs no longer do so and there has been an increase in the amount of wildlife being seen at Umani. Large elephant herds freely roam in the forest, which shows that our efforts to make the area secure for the wildlife is bearing fruit.

The team then patrolled along the forest boundary towards Kenze and Wanyani and lifted 34 snares, destroyed 3 charcoal kilns and arrested 2 charcoal burners.

We also patrolled along the southern boundary where we lifted 30 snares targeting bushbucks. All the snares had been freshly set but we were able to lift them before any animals became their victims. A group of 8 women was apprehended for harvesting grass in the park to take home to their livestock and to sell to the wealthier for the livestock, thus creating a lucrative business.
The women were handed over to the area chief to be reprimanded. Due to our persistent pressure on the charcoal burning hotspots people now seem to have shifted from charcoal burning to grass harvesting. The team leader and the forest officer talked to the community about the danger their actions poses to the wildlife.

UMANI CAMP. The presence of the small team at Umani camp has been a positive addition to our patrols. Their continued surveillance of the environs acts as a deterrent to the poachers and other individuals interested in carrying out illegal activities in the area. The elephants are now able to wallow at the camp frontage and buffaloes are often seen as is a large variety of birds.

ANIMAL SIGHTINGS. During the months patrols elephants, buffaloes, baboons, elands, hartebeest and birds among other wildlife were seen. The elephants were found to be concentrated near Umani springs and the number of animals continues to increase.

CURRENT SITUATION. We have found that more women and fewer men are being arrested in the forest. This implies that the social economic burden of the families has now fallen to the women. A second assumption could be that the men are gradually abandoning their illegal vices for other jobs or have moved to areas where there is less security.

POACHING TRENDS The over reliance on bushbucks as a source of protein could be due to their abundance in the areas patrolled. However as the poachers are wary of us the snares targeting bushbucks had been set far from their grazing areas which means that their success rate is lower.

BUSHMEAT SYMPOSIUM The team leaders from all the desnaring teams were invited to a bushmeat symposium, the first to be held in East Africa. The purpose of the symposium was to highlight how the bushmeat trade is depleting the wildlife and the underlying challenges faced in stopping the vice. It was agreed that the problem is a large one and that the input of all the conservation stake holders is needed to alleviate it.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS. SCHOOL TRIPS Two schools benefited from excursions into Tsavo West National Park.

The schools that were taken on the trips were Nguumo secondary and Soto primary. Both schools visited Shetani lava, Chaimu hills, Mzima Springs, Roaring rocks, Rhino valley and the Ngulia Bandas.
This being their first trip the pupils learnt about animals, their natural environment and the economic value of preserving wildlife.
The protection of the environment was also emphasized. The students also learnt about the various species of animal found in the park.
A video show was given to Nguumo secondary school.

COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT. The realization that pressure on protected areas will always exist has triggered an analysis on the root cause of poverty in an effort to minimize and eradicate the illegal activities taking place in the protected areas. Together with members of the community, weaving has been identified as one of the many things that one can use to earn a living without destroying the environment.

The trust will help the communities by looking for markets, both nationally and internationally, where the items made by the communities can be sold

Report by James Mbuthia