Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 May 2006

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 May 2006

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Felix Micheni Aden Abdi Samuel Lolchuraki Nterito Kapina James Lodungkiyok Lemanten Lambarakwe Julius Mumo Mutua Koti Boru Okicha 4 KWS Rangers: Isaac Melly, Maraba Too, Abdul Ali, Paul Maina

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the Gazi and Ithumba team worked together due a change being made in the team leaders. The areas patrolled included Lagga Kungu, Mathae, the Powerline and the area near the Kasaala gate in Ithumba, Nthalakana, the general Yatta area, Cotters, Kona ya Nyati, the Athi River upstream and the general Gazi area

TOTAL SNARES COLLECTED 156

British Army Training Once again we extend our sincere gratitude to the management and trustees of the Trust for facilitating yet another successful training by the British Army Marine Commandos.

The training began one day late on the 9th of May due to the fact that most of the de-snaring team members were assisting some of the de-snaring team members, who were camped at Kambi ya faru and due to a heavy downpour the previous night were caught in a flood and were at risk of drowning.
All in all there has been a big improvement in the discipline of the de-snaring team members and the techniques used to approach poachers hideouts.
In general our patrol skills in combating poaching have greatly improved since the first training session by the British Army Commandos.
This time round the trainers concentrated their efforts mainly on physical fitness training as well as map reading, first aid skills, navigation and team building skills.

Findings

As soon as we finished with the British Army training we embarked on an intensive de-snaring exercise in the Ithumba area for a period of three days. The patrols yielded 18 snares. We also encountered a poacher in the Mathae area. Unfortunately due to the openness of the area the poacher spotted our team and was able to evade arrest.

Between the power line and the Kasaala gate we came across footprints which led us to a snared Didkdik. The surrounding area yielded 16 snares all of which targeted small sized game.

On the fourth day of our operations we moved to the Gazi area. On the way there we encountered a lone buffalo that was wallowing in a waterhole at the junction to Nthalakana.

The Yatta yielded 8 old snares which was an indicator that snaring has decreased in the area. We did however come across a set of footprints near the Sheldricks blind and the Yatta caves. The footprints probably belonged to a honey hunter.

At Kona ya Nyati we discovered a well concealed poacher’s hideout. As it looked new we laid an ambush till 6:30pm.

As no one came we called off the ambush and set all their belongings, food, clothes, utensils, gunny bags and a slaughtered Didkdik, on fire.
We then searched the surrounding area and found a bow and 4 poisoned arrows that were hidden in a tree. 107 snares were lifted in this area.

Near the Gazi hills we encountered fresh footprints which we were able to follow all the way to Mukameni Village to a hut that we were informed belonged to a habitual poacher named Mule wa Makila, who was not around. In his compound we found Didkdik fur, a pile of small bone and skulls and a tree stump that had fresh blood on it.

We received information that there were three young men in who use a horn, powerful flashlights and a panga to poach in the area. It seems that his poaching technique is new to the area as we have not witnessed night poaching here before. This information will be useful to us during our June operations.

We have found that there has been a decrease in the amount of snaring taking place in the Gazi area. This is due to the swollen Athi River which inhibits many poachers from crossing the river to carry out their illegal activities in the park. The teams are bracing themselves for an increase in snaring in the Gazi area as the Athi waters subside.

The British Royal Marines joined the de-snaring teams in the field from the 23rd of May for a period of four days during which we patrolled the Gazi area with them. On the first day of our patrol with them we traced footprints to the edge of the Yatta where we found a poachers hideout. We set an ambush but were unsuccessful. We felt that the poacher may have seen our footprints, which had been left while removing snares. As we advanced upstream we found more footprints and suspect that they were from honey hunters as this is the season that they illegally harvest honey inside the park.

At the Gazi area we came across a lot of charcoal burning. In general however the area was unusually calm. We attribute this to the last few operations in the area where a number of charcoal burners and poachers were arrested.
Due to the increase in night poaching we need to increase the number of patrols in the park in order to exert pressure on the poachers.

Report by Patrick Mutuku and Felix Micheni