Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Musau Kitulya 2 KWS Rangers – Stephen Wambungu & Patrick Yegon
During the course of this month the areas covered included Tundani area, power-line, and the edge of Yatta, Umauma, Kanziko, Lagga-Kugu, Kalovoto, Gazi, Buffalo Bent, and Mukua Nima.
135 SNARES COLLECTED 6 POACHERS ARRESTED
During the month of January the Ithumba team lifted 135 snares, 10 of which targeted large game, while the rest targeted small game. In the Gazi area the situation is quite desperate, there is a very high number of illegal activities taking place including heavy logging, charcoal burning, and illegal grazing.
The year of 2008 ended on a sad note when we discovered that an elephant poacher shot an arrow at one of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts ex-orphans who is now in a wild herd. Fortunately the orphan made a full recovery after being treated by the Trusts Staff. The Ithumba desnaring team investigated the incident and early this year the whole story unraveled. A reliable source has led us to believe that the now wild elephant orphan stumbled upon the poacher’s camp in the National Park and seeing the orphan was young and hence barely had any tusks the poachers shot the orphan in order to chase it from their camp. The good news is that one of the poachers from that group who shot the elephant was killed on the 19th of January 2009 when he attempted to shoot KWS Rangers while on their patrol. The poacher killed was in possession of a G3 Gun which we have been trying to trace since 2002.
Patrols at Tundani, Power-line, Kyae-Rock, Yatta, & Umauma
During the 1st week of the month of January the team camped at the Tundani area. The team’s strategy was to camp out and cover a specific zone or block before moving on to another zone. While at the Tundani area, the team patrolled along the Power-line and Umauma. During our patrols we came across various wildlife including Buffalo herds.
At Kaye Rock the team found a shooting platform on a baobab tree.
On patrolling the Kaasala Fence- line a family of 4 elephants was spotted on the community side of the fence. This group has been on the community side moving from Umbi to Kanzika and around Kimathenya Hill.
Patrols at Kanziko, Lagga-Kugu, & Kalovoto area
During the 2nd week of January the team camped near the Kanziko Gate. We received information that this area is regularly used by poachers to go in and out of the Park. The area was covered in footprints which got concealed by the rain shortly after the team began its patrols there. At the Kalovoto area the team saw a wild elephant which is a regular visitor to the elephant orphans of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and has been nicknamed Bouncer.
Gazi General Area
Towards the end of the 2nd week of the month the team relocated to the Gazi area and camped near Buffalo Bent. It was here that we noticed a lot of illegal activities taking place which is uncharacteristic of the area. The area was filled with illegal cattle grazing, and the destruction of vegetation was extensive.
Illegal cattle grazing has escalated in this area. The team found 200 head of cattle owned by an Arab and 400 goats deep in the park on two different days.
Community Awareness campaign
Due to the rains the 2 school trips that were postponed in November 08 took place in the last week of this month. The 1st school taken was Little Angels Academy Ikutha. The kids could not hide their excitement throughout the day. They were collected at 6am; some of the parents confessed the excitement was so high that the children were unable to sleep the previous night getting up as early as 4am to prepare for the trip. Our first stop of the day was at the Park Headquarters where we arranged the park entrance fees which have been increased this year. The students were thrilled to see some of the sights in the park and learn about the wildlife and the threats of poaching. At Luggard Falls we watched a herd of elephants and their calves; we also saw some crocodiles and hippos.
The second school to go on a trip was Kone Primary School. This is a school from the Orma community near the Tana River District. The students were picked up from the School compound early in the morning. Their first stop for the day was Lagga-Kugu. Next stop was the park education Centre were the students got a lecture from the Parks Northern Area Warden.
Report by Patrick Mutuku