Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 October 2009

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 October 2009

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Participants:

James Mbuthia.-Team leader Sgt.Nderu Munyei. Julius Kyalo. Daniel Lekoiten Musangau Ndoki. David Wambua

Area of operation:

During the month of October the team patrolled the following areas: Kari and kibwezi forest

84 SNARES COLLECTED 6 ARRESTS (2 Bush meat poachers, 4 Charcoal burners)

OPERATION OBJECTIVES.

To remove and establish the extent of poaching through snaring To identify other negative human activities in the ranches To map the area and mark snaring spots. To document project findings

INTRODUCTION

Since the inception of the first desnaring team many animals have been rescued from snares, thousands of snares have been lifted and hundreds of poachers have been arrested. There has hardly ever been a month when no snares were retrieved by the desnaring teams. As the desnaring project has grown we have also changed so as to include the community in our work in an effort to educate the public about conservation and their environment. The current poverty levels per household, and the proximity of the people to the parks and the ranches, is a major conservation concern that cannot be ignored. It is therefore good to note that quality and sustainable development can only be attained where there is open dialogue of equals between conservationists and the communities neighbouring the parks and the ranches. Without people’s structures of participation and empowerment, more and more resources will be used without meeting our long term conservation objectives. The future of wildlife conservation in Kenya lies with the communities living near the protected areas.

Current situation. Due to the drought wildlife has dispersed out of the protected areas in search of food and water, which makes them more vulnerable to poachers. The poaching methods are constantly changing from snaring to lamping to bows and arrows.

Kibwezi forest. The patrol of kibwezi forest was aimed at keeping pressure on the hotspots and supporting the Umani team. Herds of Zebras coming from the chyulus have made forest as their new ranging area. The security of the Umani area and that of the forest in general is a priority for the teams. The team patrolled around Kenze and ndeini and managed to arrest 4 charcoal burners.

We also destroyed their kilns. During our patrols we lifted 24 snares targeting medium sized game.
The pressure on the forest has been reduced by the recent employment of the locals in the construction of Umani camp which has had positive results project. Recently some community members discovered some spikes in the forests meant to kill elephants and brought them to the camp.
This shows that when the local communities participate in the project it becomes easier to contain illegal activities.

Kari. The ranch is a buffer to the Chyulu national park and accommodates a lot of wildlife. When the park was burnt by arsonists earlier in the year the animals migrated to the ranch for refuge and became vulnerable to poaching. No other ranch has witnessed the kind of slaughter that is seen at KARI. Though a hotspot it is also the most hostile area for the desnaring team. It calls for strategy, and skills to have any successful arrests as people move in gangs and are usually armed with bows, arrows, slashers etc. While patrolling, the team found remains of dead animals like, zebras, hartebeests and gnus.

The broken water pipeline in the ranch and the leaking tanks often attracts animals who are in desperate need water. Poachers often wait for the animals at these points where it is easier to kill them. The team patrolled during both the day and the night and was alert for the lamping poacher’s. Due to the complexity of the poaching patterns, observation posts were set up at strategic positions in the ranch so as to signal the team when any movement was noticed.
The team found a hideout in the ranch commonly used by poachers.
Fresh footprints were noted and blood was also seen. We moved swiftly and followed the group before they crossed the road. A gang of 7 poachers was confronted and we managed to arrest 2. Unfortunately the rest escaped. The group was armed with slashers and torches. Their 7 bicycles were confiscated and 100 Kilos of kudu meat was recovered.
The loss of 7 bicycles was a big blow to the poachers who use them to transport and sell the bushmeat. After interrogating the poachers we found out that they are harvesting 4 animals per week per person. This translates to about 16 animals per month per person. This conservation challenge has to be fought from all platforms. The team continued patrolling the area and lifted 60 snares targeting big game.

Community awareness.

This month Musini primary school benefited from a school trip to the park. The most active members of the schools wildlife club were the ones taken on the trip. During the trip they visited shetani lava, mzima springs and chaimu hill.

The trip provided important learning opportunities for young people and allowed them to observe a variety of wildlife.

Soto primary school benefited from a video show featuring the elephants of Tsavo. The event opened a forum for discussions on how important it is to conserve wildlife.

The various threats facing wildlife were explained as was the role that young people in conservation. The shows are as popular as the field trios and there is a high demand for them from the schools.

Report by James Mbuthia