Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Lemanten Labarakwe Musau Kitulya James Lodungokiyok
Illegal activities within the National Park boundaries seem to be ever increasing ranging from massive amounts of illegal grazing, excessive logging, harvesting of grass, charcoal burning to commercial & subsistence poaching. Due instability in the countries political arena as well as severe destruction to Kenya’s natural resources all the wildlife that has been conserved in the last ten years and has up till now flourished seems to be plummeting in this year alone, showing just how fragile biodiversity is. Much of the wildlife has moved out of the National Parks as Cattle have pushed them out from their grazing lands leaving the wildlife very vulnerable and with little food. Sadly this also leads to Human Wildlife Conflict which had people and their livestock not pushed wildlife out the parks would be avoided. This month an elephant that moved out of Chyulu Hills National Park injured a villager and ended up being shot & killed by KWS.
During the third week of August the Team held a series of Community awareness activities. On the 18th of Aug a meeting was held with Kavete Primary School Head Teacher who has been very accommodating and active in Environmental Education in this school. Our combined efforts have swept a wave of positives change through the surrounding community particularly in Kimweli village. This village has many notorious poachers residing in it and it has been very difficult to make a change here regardless the support we gave the Kimweli Primary School. Thankfully our efforts have finally paid off, as poaching levels from this area have decreased. The team also held a meeting with local area chief and the Warden of the Northern Area of Tsavo East to encourage support for the campaign against poaching. Other local chiefs attended and the general outcome of the meeting was very positive. The government has been trying to encourage local chiefs and their performance contracts target to reduce poaching by 60%. Sp far only the Kasaala chief has managed to reach this target, the rest of the chiefs actually encourage poaching.
On the 21st August a meeting was help with the fence attendants at Kanziko Gate. The team re-enforced the importance for them to be on the lookout for movement of people into the National Park as the drought is driving many to scramble for the Parks Natural Resources. This will minimize incidences of fence vandalizing. The fence attendants have done a fantastic job of maintaining the fence line and cutting back fire hazardous vegetation from the fence posts.
On the 24th the Team organized a Football tournament for youth groups at Kasaala playing grounds. It is important to keep young people busy during the drought to engage them in activities that are not destructive and keep them from taking part in illegal activities.
On the 30th of August the Team confiscated bundles of grass near Kasaala Gate harvested from the Park. Some of this grass gets sold far away in Ikutha & Mutomo. The team caught a whole truck full of this grass.
The team received reports of rampant cattle grazing and charcoal burning inside the park in Gazi area. There are even settlements inside the park. It is going to be a daunting task for the Rangers to arrest the owners of the illegal cattle as they hide on high grounds where they can spot Rangers approaching.
Report by Patrick Mutuku