Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 February 2009

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 February 2009

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Musau Kitulya 2 KWS Rangers – Jonathan Rono & Allan Kinyua

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered included Gazi general area, Buffalo Bent, the outskirts of Moodi Farm, and Mathae.

737 SNARES COLLECTED 9 POACHERS ARRESTED

Findings

During the month of February the Ithumba team lifted 737 snares, 54 of which targeted large game, while the rest targeted small game. The team made a total of 9 arrests, unfortunately 3 poachers escaped.

Observable Evidence

As indicated in previous recent reports there is a gradual but constant increase of illegal human activities within the borders of National Parks. According to the culprits their reasoning for this increase is due to the fact that it is dry and they feel they have no other option but to encroach on the natural resources in the Parks. The team has noticed illegal cattle grazing activities in Gazi which has never been known to happen before.

A possible reason for this may be because of decreased patrols in the area which has led to the Communities across the Athi to take advantage of the absence of some sort of law enforcement authority. There is a widespread feeling by all the Communities in the area that the current Government has failed them in almost every way and their frustrations could also be a contributing factor.

Patrols at Gazi General Area and Buffalo Bent

As noted in last months report, the poaching situation is increasing and the situation is starting to look as it had around 2002 and 2003. During those years poaching was very rampant and poachers were as daring as to set about 500 snares per poacher deep within the National Park borders.

During the 2nd week of the month the team camped at Gazi area. The team made plans together with Mtito team to combine our efforts to tackle this areas ever increasing poaching and illegal grazing, and logging problems. Together we patrolled from Buffalo Bent upstream and managed to make 3 arrests, 2 of which were serious loggers and the other was caught setting snares. The Team was surprised to learn that this particular poacher was educated up to Form 6 Level. He confessed to trying to outsmart the team by staying behind us as we patrolled. He was in possession of 43 snares targeting small game. He was arrested and booked at Mutomo Police Station.

The loggers were in possession of axes, tape measure and hand saw.
The Mtito Team Patrolled with us in this area for 3 days after which they returned to their posts and patrol areas. The numbers of cattle found inside the Park were in the thousands and seemed to be grazing without any herders or owners. The owners have taken to herding the cattle into the Park at dawn and pushing them on further into the park by throwing stones at them before returning to their homes to avoid being arrested. What’s surprising is that the Cattle have learnt a routine of going into the Park in the morning, returning for a drink of water at lunch hour in the Community area and then returning to the National Park to feed till 4pm and return to their homes for the night. This makes apprehending the owners very difficult. The Team also found that the locals have been burning large sections of land in the National Park to stimulate new grass growth for their Cattle.

Patrols opposite Moody Awori and Mwakila area

During the second week of the month the Team patrolled the Moody Farm and Mwakila areas. The Team arrested two men taking part in illegal mining in the Park.

They were booked at Kibwezi Police Station. The following day the Team arrested a poacher in possession of 288 snares.
The Team proceeded to de-snare the area the poacher was caught and found several snared Dikdiks, unfortunately none were alive to rescue. The poacher was booked at Mtito Police Station.

Over the next couple of days the Team arrested 2 more poachers who were crossing the river from the Park side. They were from a gang of 5 poachers, unfortunately the other 3 managed to escape under pursuit, The ones caught confessed they had come all the way from Sheldrick Blinds were they had been staying for 7 days.

They were in possession of 150kgs of dried bush meat ready for the market, a bow & 4 poison arrows, 20kgs of honey, and 334 snares.
They were booked at Mutomo Police Station. The Team followed up on the Court verdict for these poachers and was a little disappointed and surprised to learn that the poachers only got a Ksh1,500 fines (approximately US$18) or 1 month imprisonment each.

On the last few days of the months patrols the Team received reports that poachers were entering the Park daily along the Kasaala Fence line. The Team relocated to Ithumba and carried out Patrols around the mud bath area near the Ithumba Stockades. The team arrested a poacher which has been arrested 4 times in less than a year by the Ithumba Team.

The following day the Chief of the community nearby managed to arrest a poacher trying to sell Buffalo meat in the Village. The poacher was booked at Voi Police Station.

Community Awareness campaign

The Communities bordering Tsavo East’s Northern Area have received a substantial amount of support & assistance over the last year from the Ithumba Team. Support has been extensive in the form of School Trips, Desk donations, sports equipment donations etc. The Team therefore expects the Community to reciprocate the goodwill given to them by supporting Conservation efforts in the area. The local area Chief has been at the forefront of these efforts and has taken the initiative to deploy youth game scouts in the Villages to apprehend & hand over any culprits to the relevant authorities.

Ngwate Primary School & Memboo Primary School trips.

During the 1st week of the month of February the Team organized a School trip for 2 schools: The Ngwate & Memboo Primary Schools.

The trips involved going to Lugard Falls, Kiasa Hill, Crocodile Point, Caldessa Camp & Sangayaya Park Sub-Headquarters.
The student were thrilled to have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife such as buffalo, Zebras, Elephants, Waterbuck, crocodiles, Impalas, Hippos, & heartbeats.
The Students were also taken to see the Ithumba Elephant orphans at the Ithumba Stockades and the dog unit at the Park Headquarters.
Seeing the elephant orphans at Ithumba was undoubtedly the highlight for the students and their teachers!
The Trips are aimed to provide the community youngsters with Environmental Education. The students were told to write a school project essay about “a trip to the park” and include all that they learnt about wildlife & the environment. These trips leave a permanent positive mark in the student in their outlook on Nature, Wildlife, & environment and are hence an extremely important part on our Community Outreach initiative.

Kone Primary School Desk Donation

This school is located in the Tana-River district which is one of the most remote areas in the country. The inhabitants of this area still live a traditional nomadic way of life. They are permanently on the move with their cattle. There have been efforts by the elders to settle in order to provide their children with education. The Ithumba Team donated 30 desks to this community to the Kone Primary School.

The entire school was only equipped with a total of 7 desks, so they were delighted to receive this donation.
The Desk donation was a timely gesture in helping their efforts to educate their children. The students, teachers & parent were very grateful. The school Committee requested kindly that The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust will assist in building the School a kitchen.

Report by Patrick Mutuku