Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 December 2009

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 December 2009

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Musau Kitulya Samuel Lolcharki Adan Abdi Noah Lesimirdana

Areas Covered

During the month of December the Ithumba Team patrolled the following areas: Ithumba Hill, Kassala Fence line, Kimathenya Hill, Kalovoto and Lagga- Kugu. Together with Ziwani Team and the Amboseli-Tsavo Community Game Scouts the Team also patrolled Mbirikani Group Ranch, Selengai Ranch, Kimana Sanctuary, and the outskirts of Amboseli National Park.

Observable Evidence

During the course of the month the Northern area of Tsavo received considerable amounts of rain. The arrival of the rains has been a great relief as the land is beginning to recover from the drought. This drought was one of the worst Kenya has ever experienced and the loss of wildlife has been tremendous, not only due to drought but also because of increasing poaching. Now that the waterholes have replenished and vegetation is growing wild animals are beginning to recover and spread out.

Findings

On the second week of December the Team carried out vehicle Patrols around Ithumba Hill. The poaching activity in the area seems to have decreased as no poachers’ tracks were seen. During patrols along the Kasaala Fenceline the team saw 3 lions on the Community side of the fence.

During Patrols in Kimathenya Hill the team came across Lion spoor. Normally Kimathenya area is a hot spot for poaching; thankfully the poaching has decreased as no signs of poachers were seen. Patrols along the Kalovoto and Lagga- Kugu also showed the same findings of decreased illegal activities taking place.

Team Leaders Meeting in Nairobi

On the 18th of Dec the Team Leaders from all the Anti-poaching Teams from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust met in Nairobi for new equipment training. Each Team is now equiped with a GPS modem that has the ability to take photos, as well as collect specific data which the Teams are collecting in the field. This is a hugely useful tool as it can take photos, track movements, direction, co-ordinates, time, and speed which aids the Team Leaders in managing their Patrol plans as well as assisting in the Data Collection for the Geographical Information System the Trust is setting up. The Team can now download maps and enter data from the field into a mapping system. This will aid in improving the Field Management as well as in decision making and report production.

Joint Operation at Amboseli- Tsavo Community Ranches

Following the meeting in Nairobi, the Ziwani Team teamed up with the Ithumba Team and the Rangers from the Mbirikani Group Ranch.

Foot Patrols were carried out daily covering a large area predominantly in and around the Chyulu Hills area. The Community member reported an incident of gunshots heard in the area; two poached Giraffes were found.
Aside from this incident little poaching signs were seen in terms of snaring or bicycle or foot print tracks that indicate presence of illegal human activity. The Team came across a Rhino foot print as well as a flattened are used for a sleeping place by the wild Rhino.
The Community Scouts in this area do a marvellous job at keeping illegal activities low.

Selengai Group Ranch

Following the Patrols in Mbirikani Group Ranches, the Teams splits up into two groups, one patrolled Selengai Group Ranch, with while the other Patrolled close to the Kenya- Tanzania border that runs near Amboseli National Park. With the Christmas festive season approaching, the Team anticipated large amounts of illegal activities to take place as everyone prepares for a holiday. Selengai Community Ranch is between Amboseli National Park and Emali. This area is predominantly inhabited by Maasai Tribe. The areas of Emali and Sultan Hamud are mainly inhabited by pastoralist tribes from the Kaptei clan who concentrate on farming. These communities are culturally influenced by their neighbouring Kamba Tribes. Most poaching incidences were found in the border of Selengai group Ranch and the Kaptei area. Two giraffe carcasses were found, both of which were poached recently.

A poached eland was also found, the Eland was killed using a spear.
A wounded Zebra was seen however the Team could not determine the cause of the wound in its rear end although it is most likely to be due to predation.
Signs of snares were found but it seems the snares had been recently harvested, there were also various incidences of Charcoal burning.
On the 23rd the Team lifted 18 snares targeting big game at the Kaptie area. This area has high levels of Human-Wildlife Conflict.

Kimana Community Sanctuary

On the 27th the Team together with the group it had been assigned patrolled the Kimana Sanctuary and camped at the lion stockades. There are 5 orphaned lions at this Sanctuary which are being looked after before being released back into the wild.

The Kimana Sanctuary acts as an important migratory corridor for wildlife moving between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks. The Community inhabiting this area are being paid some compensation to prevent them for putting up fences in the area so that wildlife can pass through this corridor. A lot of wildlife was seen during patrols including big game like elephants, buffalos, lions, and giraffes.
Two elephant carcasses were found.
One carcass was fresh and had been killed by a spear while the other was killed by gunshot wounds. The poachers had not had enough time to recover the tusks so the Team assisted in removing the tusks and handing them over to the authorities. Two drought victims were found, a Zebra and a Wildebeest.
An elephant bull which had been treated by the DSWT’s Veterinary Unit was also seen and is doing well.

Due to the arrival of heavy rainstorms Patrols were somewhat hindered towards the end of the month. This area is prone to flash flooding so a lot of roads and paths became impossible to pass.

Community Outreach

During the 1st week of the month the team was given sports equipment from a regular Donor which was donated to Kaluluini Primary School.

The Team also paid a courtesy visit to the Kasaala Kamba Cultural Village which aims to promote and preserve Kamba traditions. Many people no longer follow their old customs and so this project aims to revive old traditions.

The Team also assisted in delivering water to Church Youth Training Camp at Kasaala. The Team used the Trusts water bowser to deliver 3 loads to the Camp.

This kind of act is extremely valued by the Community members and builds a strong relationship between the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and its initiatives for conservation with the local Communities.
The Team also screened a wildlife film to this young group which numbered 350.
Following the wildlife film a conservation talk was conducted. The Church leaders were very grateful to the Trust for its work and assistance.

The Team attended two community meetings at Kimweli area. The community policing group has been very diligent at reporting poaching incidences to the Team.

Report written by Patrick Mutuku