Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 February 2002
De-snaring report for January and February 2002
Area of Operation
The January/February patrols were carried out around the same areas patrolled last December. However, we limited the area to cover 10 kms towards Umbi and the Yatta focusing mainly along the Tiva River.
Wambua Kikwatha Francis Itumo Julius Nkamal ) Bakari Bute )KWS Rangers Simel Raphael ) Munywoki Kisangi - Tracker Odero Samuel - cook
The operation was successful despite some constraints, the main one being the regular breakdown of our vehicle. Several days were wasted and we hesitated driving too far because of the condition of the vehicle. Also, deployment of all KWS rangers for the rhino operation left us short. However, we managed to collect 545 snares altogether.
As noted in the December report, snaring at this end is mainly for small game. The highly targeted animals are dik dik and warthog. Other animals are not sufficiently available explaining why few snares target them. On the Yatta, it was found that big and medium sized animals are seriously snared (see May – September 2000 reports). Another Observation is that few animals are seen near the boundary while many are seen further inside the Park. Likewise, few snares were lifted near the boundary while many snares were collected further inside where animals are available.
Snaring at this time of the year is at minimum levels. The reasons are that with food and water readily available for the animals they are more scattered. The poachers are also busy on their farms and many of the ones still active are now honey hunting.
Unlike the Mtito-Andei River Boundary, here very few people snare from home, but instead stay in the Park for days, or even weeks. Several hideouts were identified but none showed evidence of use currently. Some hideouts resembled permanent residences with such regular use. This fact indicates that snaring could be carried out further inside the Park, especially where waterholes retain water for most of the year.
Kitui South being off the main Mombasa – Nairobi highway means the supply of snaring wire is limited. The main source was found to be Ikutha and Mutomo. Old car tyres are burned to extract dik dik snares while big snares come from Telcom and crane wires. Big snaring wire is difficult to obtain and the market is not sustainable. This explains why the poachers remove their snares when they are not able to service them especially during the rainy season. Given this situation, constant and successful desnaring operations would deplete the snare markets, and consequently reduce snaring. It is worth noting that tracks found snared during the December operation, yielded nil snares. Another track from Tundani that was desnared by the Warden and his rangers, did not show any signs of recent use. However this does not imply that a single operation can eradicate snaring completely. A lot of pressure is very necessary if any significant success is to be achieved.
Tsavo North community projects will resemble those undertaken in the Mtito Andei area, given the tremendous success achieved there. Some alteration in terms of approach however is necessary because this Community has a different attitude towards natural resource utilization. The people of Kitui South claim to have owned part of the Park before it was declared a protected area. Secondly, their utilization dates back to the history of the community, unlike the Mtito Community that comprise relatively recent immigrants from other areas. Some people here do not appreciate the socio-economic purpose of establishing the National Park. They still have the old notion that they should be allowed access to the Parks resources.
The primary objective of this project is to make this community an integral part of our conservation effort by sensitizing them to the need for wildlife conservation and ultimately recognizing their efforts through community support initiatives. Eventually, we expect to see a positive change in attitude towards wildlife conservation and a cordial relationship between the communities and the Park fraternity. It must be noted that this community is always suspicious of community conservation people, especially if they are allied to the Wildlife enforcement officers. They see them as intelligence officers masquerading as community officers. Our initial efforts are focused on clearing the doubt. So far, we have observed a very impressive response.
On the conservation education for schools, we have visited six schools within Kasala location. In each school, two wildlife films were shown, as well as talks about harmonious co-existence with wildlife. The schools are very supportive of our project, and many pupils have become members of the newly started Wildlife Clubs. Kasala Primary School and Kimweli School registered the highest number of members who have paid registration fees. Registration is voluntary indicating the extent of support shown by the schools. Parents also play a notable role as they give their children money for registration. Kasala Secondary school has a very active club. Though only one month old, over 90% of them have paid for registration. They have elected their leaders and identified projects to be undertaken. Their Patron, who is a Moi University graduate in Wildlife Management plans to start community conservation awareness through the clubs.
On the wider community front, we visited three football clubs, namely Kasala, Malasani, and the new club established next to the Park boundary. We plan to organize football tournaments between the 8 clubs within the location as a strategy to create awareness. Kimweli school video show coincided with Parents Day. We had the opportunity to talk to the parents, who form the entire Kimweli Community. Kasala people were also reached during the sports activities.
Towards the end of February, our team, Tsavo North Senior Warden, and Simon Trevor visited the Orma Community at Kone location. This community is of significant importance to wildlife conservation because it is used as a transit route for poachers from Tsavo East, West and the Chulus. This community is pastoralist, and therefore do not poach for meat. They volunteer information to KWS about suspicious people passing through their area. We met the Chief and Village elders who organized an impromptu bazzar and talked about the importance of wildlife conservation. Later we showed a wildlife film that everyone was very excited to see. (See Kone community report)
Report compiled by Wambua Kikwatha.