Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 February 2010

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 February 2010

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PARTICPANTS

Patrick Mutuku Musau Kitulya Lemanten Labarakwe Noah Lesimirdana James Lodungokiyok

Areas Covered

During the month of February the Ithumba Team patrolled the following areas: Gazi, Kalovoto, and along the Kasaala fence line.

FINDINGS

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.

The Team had to repair the Tiva river crossing section so that the bus for the school trips could pass.

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.

During Patrols along the Kasaala fence-line it became obvious that the number of active routes in and out of the park has increased as well as the frequency in which poachers use them to access the park. Despite this increase wildlife sightings are good; this is also perhaps why poachers have begun to be more active as wildlife congregates in the area. The Team sighted 150 buffaloes on one of the patrols along Tundani road, as well as Zebras and lesser-kudu spotted near the Ithumba airstrip. The Team must keep up vigilant control over poaching in the area before wildlife numbers begin to decline.
The carcass of an African hare was found near the Camp, the cause of death could not be determined.
At Kalovoto near Kimweli gate the Team caught an illegal goat grazer who was given a strict warning to not enter the park again. In order to keep a better relationship with the surrounding community, men who are caught grazing livestock in the park as 1st time offenders are given a warning, if they trespass again they are then arrested.

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.

The Kijito borehole at Ndiandasa is still pumping out water and the animals are enjoying although most of the water seeps into the ground. A water trough needs to be constructed here.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

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.

During this time the Team pay the park entry fee and following this the students go for a game drive. The pupils were very excited remained in high spirits for the entire trip, for them this is the 1st and most likely the only time they will get to see and learn so much about the Park & wildlife that neighbours their residence.
This kind of trip can be a life changing experience for children and inspires them to actively learn about conservation.
During the Trip the bus stops over at the old van at Kiasa hill. This is the famous Air France van that broke down in Tsavo, leaving its passengers to try and survive the harshness of Tsavo. At Kiasa hill the Team Leader also informs the pupils that some of the poachers from their villages come all the way to poach in this area. The Kiasa Hill is very famous in the surrounding villages/ communities because of poaching expeditions.
The next stop was Sangayaya and Thabaguji area .The pupils were able to see buffaloes, warthogs, waterbuck, hippopotamus, crocodiles, Oryx, gazelles and elephants. The trips could not be complete without visiting the Ithumba orphaned elephants raised by the DSWT. These visits to the orphaned elephants have assisted tremendously in changing the perception of the community about how elephants behave. All the myths and old beliefs that an elephant is destructive and dangerous have been corrected and cleared, giving them a more positive outlook on wild animals, and a better understanding of their role in conservation and fighting against poaching.

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