Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 April 2009

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 April 2009

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Musau Kitulya 2 KWS Rangers – Jonathan Rono & Tom Opiyo

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered included Tundani, Uma-uma, Macho-kobo, the power line, Kalovoto, Kyae rock, Kanziko, the Gazi area, the Tiva River and buffalo bent.

150 SNARES COLLECTED 3 POACHERS ARRESTED

Findings During the month of April the Ithumba team lifted 150 snares, 111 of which targeted small gave, while the rest targeted large game. The team made a total of 3 arrests, of which two were notorious elephant poachers. Unfortunately the third poacher working with them was able to escape.

Observable Evidence There has been an increase in the number of poachers found entering the park. During the month of March more then 10 poachers were arrested by all The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust desnaring teams, with another 8 being arrested during the month of April by the teams working in conjunction with The Kenyan Wildlife Service. Most of the poachers are after large game such as buffaloes and elephants. The current food shortage has exacerbated the problem.

Patrols at Macho-kobo, Tundani, and Uma-uma The April patrols were a follow up to Februarys patrols, with the team revisiting most of the areas patrolled in past months. We began April’s patrols at Macho-kobo, Tundani and Uma-uma. We were able to arrest two notorious elephant poachers at Macho-kobo. One of the poachers upon arrest several years ago had reformed and had been working as a tracker with the Gazi desnaring team.

It is sad to see that he has gone back to the illegal activities that he had rejected. The two poachers were found in possession of 40 snares, bushmeat and other personal effects. The two were booed at Voi police station where they received a sentence of two years imprisonment or a fine of 100,000 shillings.

Patrols at the Power line, Kyae rock, Kalovoto and Kanziko During our patrols at Kyae rock we came across several footprints which led us to an area that had been quite heavily snared. We were able to lift 68 small snares and 4 large snares. We also came across a dead snared Dikdik.

This area continues to be a poaching hotspot in the Northern part of Tsavo. At Kalovoto the team lifted 7 small snares. No snares were lifted at the power line which in the past has been a poaching hotspot favoured by numerous poachers. We laid an ambush along the fence line in the Kanziko area in an attempt to apprehend a wood logger. Unfortunately he was able to evade arrest. In his hurry to escape he left behind his shirt and an axe.

Patrols at Buffalo bent and Gazi During the past months our patrols were concentrated in both these areas due to the high occurrences of illegal activities taking place including cattle grazing, wood logging, charcoal burning and poaching.

Due to our persistent patrols there has been a decline in the number of illegal activities taking place. The team was able to arrest a poacher at buffalo bent at his hideout who upon interrogation told us that he had been inside the park for the period of a week. Hew as found in possession of 20 snares and a dead Dikdik. The culprit was booed at Mutomo police station.

Patrols at Kyamanyenze and the Tiva River On the 25th of April we received information about a group of poachers operating along the Tiva River Stretch. We patrolled the area for a period of two days and came across footprints leading out of the park. We also came across areas where the poachers had set fires. We lifted 5 small snares during our patrols in the above areas.

Bushmeat markets We have mounted a crackdown on the bushmeat market that can be found along the park boundary. We have had positive results from this initiative with 5 people being apprehended in possession of a total of 300 snares and bushmeat. The main target has been local beer brewing dens. Two suspected ivory buyers were also arrested by the team. The local leaders and area chiefs were very supportive of the operation, which came after they toured the park in March and were shown the thousands of snares that had been recovered from poachers operating in the park

Community Awareness campaign Most of the schools were on vacation for the Easter holidays and thus we did not visit any schools or carry out any field trips. On the 5th of April we held a meeting with the fence attendants at the Kassala gate in an effort to emphasize the need for them to pass on information about poachers in a timely manner. W also met with the area Chief who has been extremely helpful in passing on information about poachers operating in the area. With his assistance he has helped KWS apprehend 5 poachers who were selling bushmeat. We have realized that in order to make an impact on poaching we have to combat it by destabilizing the ready bushmeat market which can be found outside the park boundaries.

We also met with the head teacher and school chairman of Kavete primary school. We discussed the possibility of donation desks to the school when they reopened. We also spoke to them about the importance of them and the community supporting our conservations initiatives. We discussed the same issues with the head teacher of Kakithya primary school.

Report by Patrick Mutuku