Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 March 2008

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 March 2008

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Sylvester Matheka Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Musau Kitulya Peter Ndungu 2 KWS Rangers – Rono Jonathan & Solomon Kukutya

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered included downstream Kanziko, the Athi River, Gazi hills, the Umbi fence line, Tundani, Nthalakana, Macho kobo, Buffalo bent, the Yatta caves, and the area opposite the Moody Awori farm.

TOTAL SNARES COLLECTED 93 3 ARRESTS

Findings

The Ithumba team reported back from its annual leaver during the first week of March. The Ziwani team from Tsavo west national park patrolled our areas during the last month and continued exerting pressure on the poachers operating in the area.

The March operation was carried out in two phases. The team started its desnaring operations in the areas near Ithumba camp. During the first day of our patrols at the Tundani area along the Tiva River we arrested one poacher who was in possession of a bow, poisoned arrows and a large snare. Two other poachers were able to evade arrest and escaped into the bushes.

The following day we patrolled the general Yatta area and arrested another two poachers who were in possession of 13 snares, two bows, 16 poisoned arrows and an axe. The three perpetrators were booked at Mutomo police station where charges were made against them.

The second phase of our patrols involved the supervision of casuals on the proposed fence extension downstream of the Athi River. The team them moved its operations to the Gazi area where we set up camp near the Mukuanima airstrip. Patrols were conducted along the fence line, on top of the Yatta, Kona ya Nyati, the Moody Awori farm, along the Athi River, the Gazi hills and the area from the Athi to the Yatta. Few signs of illegal activities were seen with 55 snares being lifted. This can be attributed to constant and well co-ordinated patrols in the areas, which in past months had been designated as hotspots for all sorts of illegal activities.

We set up camp at Kona ya Nyati so that we could carry out convenient patrols and ambushes. Adjacent to the Moody Awori farm we came across footprints that were about 3 days old and were followed to no avail. The general area had very few illegal activities which is probably due to the fact that the community members are busy tending to their farms. We did however lift 18 small snares.

A well laid ambush on the lower edge of the Yatta proved to be unsuccessful and a honey hunter was able to evade arrest. Immediately after the onset of the long rains a number of animals were seen in the area which is an indicator that our continued patrols are not in vain and the animals feel safe enough to be in the area. We have noticed that lately there has been a decline in the number of snares being set and lifted which implies that we are successful in frustrating the poachers preventing them from setting snares. This does not mean that we can be more lax in our patrols as the poachers are cunning and they could simply be trying to lull us into a sense of security so as to enable them to continue with their illegal activities.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS & FENCE PROJECT The extension of the fence from the Tiva to the Athi River in June of last year brought joy to the community on top of the Yatta as they were able to harvest their crops without worrying about them being destroyed by the wildlife.

However what we forgot is that elephants were in the area long before humans were. They used to drink water and mud bathe in the natural waterholes in the area before the erection of the fence. For this reason, upon finding a barrier went all the way to the end of the fence and crossed into the community area. Efforts to return them to the park side have proved futile and a group of nine elephants has moved to the Kasaala area. We have asked the communities in the area to be patient and to help us to find a lasting solution to the problem. We have proposed an extension of the fence by about 10 kilometers. The bush clearance for the fence extension has been completed thus enabling us to move on to the next phase.

We have talked to the local leaders; the district officer, the chiefs, the area councilors and other key persons in an effort to education the community about conservation issues. Our meetings have been successful and the community members now have a more positive view towards wildlife.

During the first week of the month we took Tsavo primary school for a school trip into Tsavo East National Park. The pupils managed to tour scenic areas like Shetani caves, the Tiva River, Kiasa hill, and Lugards falls among other areas.

The group also visited the orphaned elephants and we took the opportunity to explain to the students that only without poaching would there continue to be wildlife for them and future generations to see.

During the last week of the moth we held a meeting attended by the Warden Northern Area, the District Community Warden, Local councilors, the Area Chief, and the fence committee members.

Issues discussed during the meeting touched on conservation and the strengthening of a good working relationship between the local community and KWS. The local leaders put in a request for sporting equipments that could be used to keep the youth clubs busy. They also asked if a trip into the park could be organized for the fence committee.

Report by Patrick Mutuku