Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 May 2007

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 May 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: Umbi, Kanziko, Mathae, the Kasaala fence line, Kyae rock, Tundani, Mkua-Nima and the general Gazi area.

TOTAL SNARES COLLECTED 159

Findings

Upon resumption of its duties the team received a report from reliable sources that the poacher that had been found dead in the park in April had been attacked by a disturbed elephant. The poachers and shot at the elephant using poisoned arrows and it was at this time that the elephant charged the poachers killing one of them. In order to avoid arrest the poachers had changed their story saying that he had died of dehydration.

We began the month’s patrols by revisiting the areas that we had patrolled in March. Due to the beginning of the honey hunting season we have witnessed an influx of poachers into the park. This was made evident by the many footprints that we came across during out patrols. We also received intelligence information from the community about the high rate of illegal activities taking place. During the first week of our operations we were able to lift some snares around the park headquarters.

During the second week we moved our operations to Mkua-Nima and the general Gazi area where we were overwhelmed by the number of illegal activities taking place. On the second day of our patrols we visited a frequented charcoal burning spot which is located about 13 kilometers from the river. We were spotted by 3 poachers who were crossing the river from the park side. Upon moving further upstream we came across a fresh poacher’s hideout and decided to lay an ambush.

Unfortunately the poacher came up behind us, spotted our footprints and was able to evade arrest. Further upstream we came across even more footprints. While returning to our camp in the evening we came across another poacher’s hideout containing the poacher’s belongings. We searched the camp and came across his bow and five poisoned arrows.
We ascertained that he had probably left the camp a few days ago to sell bushmeat across the river.

More tracks led us to an area containing many snares and we were able to lift 36 snares that targeted small and medium sized game. The footprints in the area indicated that the poacher had checked his snares in the morning and had then moved into the community areas. During the course of half a day we came across evidence of 8 poachers entering and leaving the park which makes us wonder how many enter and leave in a day.

The road from Thambaguji to the Gazi airstrip is currently being graded as it has gone ungraded for over 10 years.

The bushes and tree branches had become overgrown and were blocking the road and the airstrip. The grading will make our patrols easier and will minimize the damage done to our desnaring vehicle.

The fence project has also progressed. The extension of the existing Kasaala fence line will be approximately 22kms from the Tiva River to the Athi River. The fence line will go a long way towards minimizing the human wildlife conflict in the area as currently both buffalo and elephants are entering the community areas and destroying the crops.

A meeting was held about the fence line as the community members, some of whom had settled in the park, were not happy about the fence as it prevents them from grazing their livestock in the park, cutting grass in the park, collecting water in the park, logging for charcoal burning and building, honey collection and poaching.
More meetings will be held wit the locals to sensitize them about the fence and help them see the benefits of the fence so that they understand the importance and need of the fence.

On the 30th of March the fence line attendants reported an elephant that had crossed the fence near the Kasaala gate by stepping on a rock and jumping into the community area.

It crossed back into the park by the same means breaking one of the fence posts in the process.

The US board of Trustees paid a visit to Ithumba Headquarters on the 30th of March. They inspected the KWS workshop which is not well equipped and needs to be upgraded.

They also visited the Ithumba camp and spent some time with the orphans at the noon mudbath. The visit was enjoyed by everyone.

Report by Patrick Mutuku