Area of Operation
During this month, part of the Kimweli – Kasaala boundary stretch was patrolled. Spot checks along the Tiva River and Mkoka were also done. The main operation took place at Ntharakana, the area from Tsavo Safari Camp upstream to Gazi and from the same camp downstream towards Thabangunji.
Wambua Kikwatha (team leader) Francis Itumo (assistant) Kisangi Munywoki (tracker) Odero Samuel (car guard) KWS Rangers Martin Wambua cook
Kimweli-Kasaala and Tiva Patrols
After a short break, the de-snaring team embarked on patrols along the above areas. We have concentrated on this particular area resulting in a decline in snaring levels. Most of the major tracks did not show evidence of current use. However, we discovered that poachers avoid these tracks and are establishing new ones not known by us. At some points, snaring is done randomly. With help from our tracker, we traced the footprints from the boundary. Altogether 191 snares were collected. About 40 were for medium sized animals, whilst the rest were for small game. Only a small portion of the boundry was patrolled.
Ntharakana, Gazi – Thabangunji patrols
Patrols at Ntharakana, and downstream from Tsavo S Camp towards Thabangunji yielded nil snares. After the last month’s operations, tracks at these places have not been used. Areas along the Galana River and the edge of the Yatta, especially where there are springs were checked too. There is a lot of game south of Tsavo Safari Camp – elephants, buffalo, lesser kudu and dik dik. In contrast north of Ts. S. Camp towards Gazi was much more depleted, with nothing as one gets closer to Gazi. A few medium sized animals were sighted less than 10 kms from Ts. S. Camp. Unlike last month, snares were concentrated along the river and between the Yatta and the River – perhaps trying to avoid arrest on top of the Yatta. A total of 1,065 snares were collected. About 150 snares for big and medium sized animals and the rest for dikdik. One poacher with 30 snares was arrested, while three escaped. We have received information from the immediate community that our operations are known to the poachers and there is a slight fear of being caught. I recommend that patrols be done on a regular basis along this area. There is a possibility of poachers moving en masse Southwards after depleting this area. The privately owned land across the river has been an effective barrier, and if security is kept up across the park poaching will go down dramatically. A vehicle track from Ntharakana, along the top of the Yatta needs to be established. This will facilitate both Yatta, Athi, and Tiva operations.
The desnaring patrols ran concurrently with road clearing and repair. Casuals employed by the Trust together with the Mtito desnaring team helped do an 84km stretch. 54kms from Tsavo Safari Camp to Gazi and 30kms downstream. Poachers have taken advantage of the fact that vehicles cannot use this road. The road is now passable for KWS Rangers and desnaring operations. The road that completes the Gazi loop will be done later.
With this being the peak snaring time, less time was dedicated to community work. The schools were also in recess; however, we had a meeting with the local sports committee and arranged for a way of putting six clubs together for conservation awareness.
Report prepared by Wambua Kikwatha