Patrick Mutuku Musau Kitulya Lemanten Labarakwe Noah Lesimirdana James Lodungokiyok
During the month of February the Ithumba Team patrolled the following areas: Gazi, Kalovoto, and along the Kasaala fence line.
165 snares lifted
During the month of February there has been a noticeable increase in poaching activities taking place in the Northern part of Tsavo East. These findings are not only from observable evidence such as poachers tracks inside the Park but also from information the Team received from regular & reliable informers.
The Team carried out team vehicle patrols along the park boundary. Patrols where made difficult due to the roads having been washed away by heavy rains, most require serious repair.
PATROLS AT KASAALA FENCELINE AND KALOVOTO AREA During one of the vehicle patrols, the team received information that a poacher had just entered the Park at Kalovoto area near Kimweli gate. On further investigation it surfaced that it was his daily routine to enter the Park at about 10 am and exit at 1 pm. The Team lay ambush and witnessed the poacher exiting the park carrying an axe and some sacks. The Team suspected this man is a potential Elephant Poacher and hence approached the Warden of the Northern Area to inform him of the situation and get some KWS assistance in arresting the poacher. The Warden immediately assigned the Team with armed rangers and together a trap was put into action. The poacher fell into the trap but sadly after a long chase he was able to escape narrowly. The Team together with KWS Rangers will continue to track this mans activities down in attempt to capture and arrest him. Later during the same day the Team retrieved 165 snares of which 2 were for big game.
GAZI AREA On the evening if the 27/2/2010, while perched on the Ithumba Hill rock at the Elephant Orphan stockades making phone calls, a huge amount smoke was seen on top of Yatta towards moving in the direction of the Gazi area. This was a very worrying sight because it was definitely inside the park, not only is this dangerous for wildlife but the fire could spread very fast and burn the Kasaala fence posts. By coincidence the KWS Warden flew in his Super Cub over that area on his way back. He confirmed the fire was inside the park at Gazi airstrip and was spreading very fast. The best time of putting out bush fires is when the temperatures are down hence the Team headed out that night with the plan of putting the fire out with the help of the moonlight. On arrival at around 12 midnight the fire had slowed due to green vegetation and it had died off completely, the Team did very little fire fighting to finish off the remnants of the fire. The fire had definitely been started by poachers inside the park trying to draw out wildlife for poaching.
BOREHOLE DRILLING NEAR ITHUMBA AIRSTRIP DAM The long awaited drilling of the borehole was drilled during the first week of the month. The prospecting and surveying of where to sink the borehole had been done back in year 2006. During the drought the Ithumba area has been hit with shortage of water for both humans and animals which got so desperate water had to be fetched all the way from Voi & Athi Rivers near Luggards crossing. The borehole was successfully drilled and water was found at the proposed 80 meters depth. This will alleviate pressure on the other borehole during the next dry season and will give the Trust the ability to provide water for wildlife that come to the water trough at the Stockades.
SCHOOL TRIPS During the month of February the Team organized two school trips. The first school to visit the park was Kivuti primary school. This was their 3rd trip to the park although with over 640 students in this school and only the capacity to take 28 children per Trip this is not even a quarter of the school. This school has been very active & attentive to conservation activities and hence continues to get this kind if benefit from the Team. The second school to visit the park was Kisou primary school. The pupils were picked up at 6am in the morning, and the trip goes on for the whole day to maximize of time & sightseeing. On arrival at Ithumba park headquarters the pupil’s climbed Ithumba hill.
WILDLIFE FILM SHOWS Four schools benefited from the video shows this month. These were: Ngwate primary school, Kasaala Youth Polytechnic, Kasaala secondary school, and Kivuti primary school.
The film shows have been a great aid in altering the perception of the entire community on conservation issues. This is evident in the initiatives taken by communities to conserve as well as in the number of orphaned animals the community has rescued and handed over to the Team for raising & re-introduction into the wild. If it where some years back, these orphaned animals would certainly have been eaten instead of spared. So far 2 orphaned Bush Duikers have been rescued by school children from the Communities. This really gives the Team a lot of hope and satisfaction in knowing the Community Outreach is working.
REPORT COMPILED BY PATRICK MUTUKU I/C ITHUMBA TEAM