Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 April 2010

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 April 2010

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Participants Patrick Mutuku Musau Kitulya Noah Lesirmidana Lemanten Labarakwe James Lodungokiyok

One poacher arrested 35 small snares lifted

FINDINGS The Ithumba team reported back to work from their annual leave on 9/4/10. The Tsavo East national park northern area has received substantial amounts of rainfall since the beginning of the year and the waterholes and dams are once again full. The Ithumba dam near the airstrip has filled to the extent of spilling over and the new drilled borehole which was sunk near the dam has been submerged in water.

The Tiva River is still flowing although it did not flood as has good vegetation cover following the short rains.

ITHUMBA NORTHERN AREA FENCELINE This month the fence attendants got a helping hand from the Kazi kwa vijana programme. They were relieved the heavy burden of keeping the grass short during the rains with twenty casuals being engaged who are clearing the fence line on the community side clearing from the Tiva River to the Kanziko gate.

Phase two of the clearing will be from the Kanziko gate to the Umbi gate; with the last phase will being from the Tiva to the Athi River. The “Kazi kwa vijana programme” has also helped clear the long grass at the Ithumba park headquarters. This venture been co-ordinated by the Community Wildlife Warden at Mutomo and the local District commissioner at Mutomo.

TUNDANI, UMAUMA, TIVA RIVER STRETCH Most sections of the road have been washed away by the heavy rains leaving deep gulleys which make patrols in some sections unbearable. Other road sections such as at Kanziko and Mathae are waterlogged and impassable. We got stuck on Mathae road on our way to the Kanziko gate and had to be pulled out by the tractor.

All the same illegal human activities are down this month apart from a few isolated cases. We sighted a family of elephants along the Tundani road and also spotted lesser kudus and impalas along the Tiva river stretch.

KASAALA FENCELINE, MATHAE AND KANZIKO AREA. Along the fence line, we noted some routes which are being used frequently by poachers. We managed to lift 35 small snares which had been laid just along the fence line. The poachers are entering near the power line and Mathae road where we spotted two footprints moving into the park.

Most of the wildlife has moved to this area with zebras and a family of elephants being sighted along Mathae road. We also spotted very fresh footprints at the Kalovoto stream heading towards lagga kugu and reported them to KWS who intensified their patrols in these areas and were able to find a dead impala near the Ndia-ndasa area which had the poisoned arrow that had killed it still logged in its ribs. Most of the reformed poachers which we are constantly in touch with conceded that due to the thick bushes there is very few poaching activities taking place inside the park. Due to the good rains most of the community members who also poach when idle are busy in their farms. The situation will be different from the month of May when honey hunting picks begins.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMME During one of our visits to the community, we came across an elephant poacher whom we had arrested sometime ago, he was out of jail and spoke to us honestly about he and other poachers are tempted by the current good prices of ivory in the market. So while we intensify the patrols inside the park, the market chains also need to be dismantled and destabilised in order to have an impact. On one of the community visits at the Kimweli area, we came across a poacher who was carrying poisoned arrows. He tried to hide them under his inside his coat by putting them under his arms but they were still protruding from the bottom of his coat.

Upon interrogation he admitted that he was in the wrong and due to his age was handed over to the local chief, and the arrows were confiscated. These dangerous weapons could for sure have been used inside the park to kill wildlife. When we were talking to this particular poacher another reformed poacher came around and helped us convince the young man that poaching has no tangible benefits whatsoever.

FILM SHOW AT KASAALA AND KAVETE PRIMARY SCHOOL. We managed to show wildlife films to two primary schools whose pupils were on holiday tuition. The respective head teachers had requested for the video shows. Kasaala primary school was the first one where to see the videos. The show was attended by about 600 pupils who really enjoyed the film.

The next school was Kavete primary school. Parents who had heard about the film from the pupils could not wait to be invited and when we arrived we found them waiting for the video show. No sooner had we started than more parents streamed to the school to watch the wildlife film. The wildlife films have become very popular educative tool in this area.

REPORT BY PATRICK MUTUKU