Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 November 2009

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 November 2009

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Musau Kitulya Lemante Labarakwe James Lodungokiyok Noah Lesirndana

Areas Covered

During the month of November the Ithumba Team patrolled the following areas: Tundani, along Kasaala fence-line, Tiva river stretch, Umbi, Lagga-kugu and around Ithumba hill.

Observable Evidence

Although the long awaited rains have arrived the rain has not arrived in the large amounts predicted. It was predicted that Kenya will receive El-Nino rains however rainfall has been far bellow the expected amounts. With this in mind the drought is still a problem in Kenya. The rains have been very patchy and hence some areas are still as they were when the drought was at its worst whereas other areas are green.

Findings

During vehicle patrols there has been a clear overall increase in illegal human activity in the Park. This finding is contradicting as most conservationists and anti-poaching personnel believed that with the arrival of the rains people will return to their agricultural activities and poaching will decrease. Sadly due to the erratic and unpredictable weather patterns the general feeling amongst community members is one of little hope in their lands ability to be farmed and hence poaching and other illegal activities persist at increasing rates.

Tundani, Tiva River and Kasaala Fence

During patrols along the Tiva River the team found an elephant carcass. This sectioned of the park had not received its share of the rains and hence the wildlife looks emaciated and weak. It is possible the elephant is a drought victim.

During patrols in the Tundani area the team found that the roads had been blocked by fallen palm trees and dried up commifora Africana. The team cleared the roads and found some very fresh footprints on the Umauma road which showed allot of movement to and fro which means the poacher had a hideout nearby.

Upon further patrols the team came across a poacher carrying a sack full of bush meat. Unfortunately the poacher spotted us approaching and made a swift getaway and disappeared into thick bush.

Lagga-kugu, Umbi and around Ithumba Hill

The team has kept constant patrols in this area to protect some of the now wild elephant orphans from the Trust as this is their preferred area. The wild elephants have also congregated here due to the presence of the orphans and availability of water and food. The new KWS Warden for the Northern Area is also a pilot and he assists in doing regular aerial patrols over this area.

From Kanziko gate towards Umbi the team came across several charcoal burning sights just several meters outside the park fence line. These charcoal burners get their logs from the park, smuggle them out through the fence and burn them in these kilns.

Community Outreach

The team paid a visit to Kakindu Primary School where it is intended to donate 30 desks to Class 3 students who are currently sitting on the floor for all their lessons.

This school is situated near Kimathenya Hill which borders the Park boundary. The Chief of this community has been spearheading a spirited campaign for his people to change and stop poaching.

On the 14th of Nov the team attended a graduation ceremony for Kasaala Young Polytechnic. The new KWS Warden was also present along with some other Local Leaders. The parents were encouraged to keep their young active in positive activities and away from illegal activities in the Park.

The new Water Bowser

All the Ithumba staff where deeply grateful for the timely arrival of the new water bowser for the Northern Area with a capacity of over 20,000 litres of water, kindly donated to the Trust by a donor. The situation in this area for water for both humans and wildlife was getting desperate, the borehole was drying up and the wildlife was increasingly reliant on water from the trust due to all the natural water sources drying up. On the long run water is going to become an increasing problem in Kenya and hence strategic and sustainable water management needs to be implemented. This water bowser has been of tremendous help to the wildlife as well as the people in the Northern Area of Tsavo and will continue to do so in the coming years.

Sports Equipment donation at Kaluluini Primary School

On the 18th of Nov the Team donated sports equipment valued at Kenyan shillings 22,000 from a Donor called Max & Silke. The sports equipment included balls, nets, foot-pump, javelin, discus, whistles, first aid boxes, netball rings, skip ropes, and relay buttons. The pupils, parents, and teachers were extremely grateful to receive this donation. The sports equipment was donated to the Kaluluini Primary School due to its outstanding attitude towards wildlife and conservation, the team has taken students from this school on Educational trips into the National Park and is impressed with the attitude of the children. The students were very excited to receive this donation and performed a ‘thank you’ dance and song.

The Team was able to convince parents through this school to convert a notorious elephant poacher away from his profession. This has worked tremendously well due to the support of the parents. This notorious poacher is no longer poaching.

Tsavo West Community Visit to Ithumba

On the 20th of Nov some of the community members from Tsavo West National Park paid a visit to the Ithumba Fence line to learn more about how such a fence is managed and how this fence could benefit communities living along National Park boundaries. They where accompanied by KWS Community Warden Tsavo West and some other technical staff. They were received by the Community living along the Ithumba Fence line as well as the Ithumba Team and KWS from the Northern area. The Ithumba Team leader gave a lecture on the Fence line and its maintenance. The visitors then had a tour to see the fence line and its workings.

This community from Tsavo West has had great difficulty with human- wildlife conflict and has been clashing with KWS over this issue. This tour has helped KWS and the community hugely and the community was very pleased to see how life alongside wildlife can be peaceful. The Team also took the Community Members to the Ithumba Stockades in an attempt to shed some light on Elephants and their behaviour to try to open their views of wildlife to a more positive view. The Community left this experience with a broadened and more positive view of wildlife and they are set on trying to set-up a fence line along Mtito-Andei area from Mangelete to Nthongoni.

Report compiled by Patrick Mutuku