Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 June 2007

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 June 2007

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Musau Kitulya Rajab Hamisi 2 KWS Rangers

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered were: Tundani, Kalovoto, The Kasaala fence line, along the Tiva river stretch, Kyamanyenze, the Power line, Mathae, and Kyae Rock.

TOTAL SNARES COLLECTED 418 ARRESTS 1

Findings

During the first week of our operations we decided to lay a series of ambushes along the fence line in an attempt to arrest poachers as they either entered or left the park. From the intelligence information that we had gathered we learnt that there was an increase in the number of poachers entering the park. During a single patrol along the power line we were able to lift 66 snares. An ambush that was laid for 3 days did not yield any arrests and we therefore decided to mount an observation point to be used in conjunction with an ambush in order to establish what was going on and were able to discover that the poachers had placed a poacher atop Kimathenya hill, on the community side, who could alert them of any rangers or patrols in the area. We continued with our stake out and at about noon a poacher arrived. However just as he was about to cross the fence line a warning whistle was sent from the hill and he left. We decided to call of the ambush at 3pm at which time another call came from the hill. We were able to see the poacher but were not able to arrest him. Furthermore we discovered that our vehicle is also alerting the poachers to our presence and feel that it would be a good idea to fit the land rover with a silencer.

During the second week of our operations we set up cam at Tundani along the Tiva river stretch making it easier for us to access the edge of the Yatta across the river. It became evident that there were a lot of illegal activities taking place in the area and that it was dominated by poachers. During the second day of our patrols we came across two poachers in the process of laying their snares. Unfortunately they heard us approaching dropping both their snares and a dead Dikdik in their effort to evade arrest, as they called to one another, communicating via whistles and other sounds.

They approaching our ambush from behind and escaped in the thick bush. However our patrol was not in vain as we were able to recover 142 snares, with another 97 snares and a dead snared Dikdik being found the following day.
At Tundani we found a shooting platform used by the poachers who target the wildlife as they are drinking water.

On the edge of the Yatta we found a lot of logging taking place with a large number of Mellia Vonkensii trees being cut down.

A lot of footprints were found around Chamanyenze and along the Tiva River with a large number of timber being harvested in the area. 19 snares were lifted during our patrols in this area.

During the third week of our operations we decided to revisit the area where we had laid our ambushes at the beginning of the month. We went to Kanziko gate where we usually gather information from the gate attendants who told us that everything was in order. We later discovered that they had laid 54 snares in the vicinity of the gate.

As we were interrogating them about the snares we heard the cries of a Dikdik and rushed to rescue it. Unfortunately we were too late and were unable to save it.
Furthermore we received information that the gate attendants were also cutting timer at the Umbi gate.
We called in the off duty gate attendants in order to establish the truth about what was going on. Three of the gate attendants at Kanziko were pointing the finger at one of their co-workers who decided to spill the beans and told us everything in details. We found out that they had sold a kilo of their beans rations and with the money bought a tire that they burnt to make snares which they then placed around the gate. Four of the attendants were sacked on the spot and handed over to the area chief for further punishment.

The following day we went to Umbi and then doubled back to carry out a patrol along the Kasaala fence line. We spotted two poachers crossing the fence carrying a plank of timber. We were able to arrest one of the poachers, who while attempting to escape nearly shot one of our team members with a poisoned arrow. At this point one of the rangers working with us fired a round into the air forcing the poacher to surrender.

He showed us where he had laid his snares, 22 in total, and we were able to rescue a Dikdik that had become trapped in one of them.
The poacher was booked at Mutomo police station where he was sentenced to 7 days or a fine of 200 shillings, a sentence which surprised everyone.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN The fence line construction at Mukua-Nima continues as planned. The energizer house is in place and in use.

The fence should be completed by the first week of July.
We have also been able to open the road by hand, which runs along the entire 22kms of the fence line. The issue of the gate continues to be a contentious one which needs to be resolved by all the stakeholders, the community and the park management. We held a meeting with the committee members in order to try and find an alternative source of water. 4 primary schools, Kakithya, Kavete, and Tsavo primary, were visited in order to assess them and explore the possibility of funding some of their projects.

Report by Patrick Mutuku