Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 August 2008

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 August 2008

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Musau Kitulya Peter Ndungu 2 KWS Rangers – Julius Komora, Patrick Yegon

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered included Macho-Kobo, Tundani, Kyamanyenze, Lagga-kugu, Kalovoto, Umbi, Mathae, Sheldrick blind, Nthalakana, Tsavo safari camp, Kilalinda

241 SNARES COLLECTED 4 ARRESTS

29 POISONED ARROWS RECOVERED

Findings During the month of August the Ithumba team managed to lift a total of 241 snares. The team was able to arrest 4 poachers who were in possession of bush meat and numerous poisoned arrows. The month’s patrols were concentrated around water points and wetlands as this is where the majority of wildlife can be found during the dry season. They visit these areas in search of water and green vegetation. This attracts the poachers who set their snares in and around these areas, erecting shooting platforms from which they get a good view of the area and are able to shoot their poisoned arrows into wildlife coming to these areas to drink and feed. During the team's patrols at Kilalinda we came across a Lesser Kudu that had been caught in a snare. It was still alive but unfortunately died while we were in the process of freeing it from the snare.

Observable Evidence Most of the areas patrolled during the beginning of the month were around the Ithumba area and recorded a decrease in the number of snares lifted. The poachers have realized that they are wasting their time and effort in placing snares around the Ithumba base and have now begun to move their snaring deeper into the park. The poachers are constantly changing their tactics and methods and have now begun to target larger animals such as buffalo and elephant. We have received information from arrested poachers that a kilogram of ivory is currently retailing between 2000 and 4000 kshs. There has been a noticeable increase in the demand for Ivory since CITES allowed the sale of stockpiles of ivory from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Tundani, Macho-Kobo and Kyamanyenze During our patrols in the above areas we came across a shooting platform which had been erected along the Tiva River, an area often frequented by wildlife that come to the river to quench their thirst. We were able to lift 11 snares all of which targeted small game. Logging and the cutting of thatch grass is at an all time high with women and children entering the park at all hours to harvest the thatch grass.

Mathae, Kalovoto and along the Kasaala fence line During the dry season the animals move to the streams and luggas in search of green vegetation which serve as an additional source of water for them, especially in areas like Umbi where there are no permanent water sources. The team visited most of these areas, which are frequented by poachers and were able to lift 14 snares along the Kalovoto stream. Three of the lifted snares targeted large game.

Kanziko, Umbi, Mukomwe, and Lagga-Kugu We noted a lot of evidence of bicycles being used in these areas as well as the presence of footprints. We followed the footprints and found that logging was taking place at an increased level. The loggers were not found as they had left the park, choosing to operate at night under the cover of darkness, and by the light of the moon.

Nthalakana, Sheldrick blind, Tsavo Safari camp.

Patrols along the Yatta plateau have been hindered due to the lack of a decent road network. The poachers have taken notice of this and are capitalizing on it. The team patrolled the above areas and was able to arrest 4 elephant poachers who were in possession of 29 poisoned arrows, 145 snares and several personal effects. Each of the poachers was found with a mobile phone and food items.

We believe that the poachers are being financed by someone who sends them into the park to carry out their illegal activities. Upon interrogation the poachers told us that their plan was to remain in the park for the period of a month.
One of the arrested poachers has been operating for 25 years and claims to have never seen patrols in the area in which they were arrested, Thabaguji, during that time.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN During the third week of the month, as part of the public service week, the team in conjunction with the KWS office at Ithumba and the Community Wildlife office at Mutomo presented a film show at Mutomo which attracted large crowds. The Ithumba desnaring team’s stand was voted as the best by everyone who attended the event.

Report by Patrick Mutuku