Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 September 2006

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 September 2006

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Mutua Koti Musau Kitulya Rajab Hamisi 2 KWS Rangers – Paul Maina & Gatibe Sagire

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered were: Umbi, the Kasaala fence line, Kalovoto, Mathae, Kanziko, Syomanyenze, Umaumaa, Kiasa, Lagga Kungu, Nida-Ndasa, Bisadi and the edge of the Yatta.

TOTAL SNARES COLLECTED 232

Findings

This month’s patrols were a follow up of last months due to the fact that we received information that after visiting an area and lifting the snares the poachers return once we leave and set fresh snares. We also learnt that the poachers found that we had been concentrating our activities far from the headquarters and thus this month had set snares near the park headquarters. We followed poacher’s footprints from the fence line to an old mudbath, a distance of 10 kilometers, during which we lifted 46 snares that targeted small game. One of the reasons that they are targeting this area is due to the availability of water. Poachers tend to set snares where animals come to drink as it makes them easy targets and also allows the poachers to monitor their movements and behavior.

The waterhole ecosystems get affected as a result.

During the first weeks of the month the de-snaring team relocated all the snares and other confiscated items to a container near the workshop.

This was done due to the fact that the old store, which had originally been built as a cell for arrested poachers, had become too small. The team then patrolled the Ndia-Ndasa and Bisadi areas.
The Kijito windmill at Ndia-Ndasa is in dire need of repair. It was noted that the Orma herdsmen have moved into the park and can be found towards the Rokka airstrip. Although the community are known to be good informers and do not poach, the illegal grazing that they practice damages the park. They are grazing along the Tiva river which has caused the wildlife that used to be seen in this area to move to other areas, which interferes with they breeding thus in the long run affecting the animal populations.
The KWS security personnel have tried to drive them out but they keep returning arguing that they have no alternative sources of pasture and water, especially during the dry season. They feel that they should be allowed to graze their cattle as they give us information about other illegal activities that take place such as poaching.

During the second week of the month the team moved its operations to the Kasaala fence line which has become a poaching hotspot. Along the power line we lifted 69 snares all of which targeted small game. At the Kanziko area we received a tip from the gate men that there were poachers in the area, and found a dead snared Dikdik.

We followed their footprints but unfortunately they were able to evade arrest. We have received immense support, in terms of intelligence, form the men who are manning the energizer houses/gates. We have also noted that at this time of year the wildlife is concentrated around the water points, which is why the poachers have moved their activities close to the park headquarters. Last year at the same time most of the snares were lifted near the park base, so the movement of the poachers has become a pattern.

At the Umbi area we found a fresh poachers hide-out and laid an overnight ambush. Unfortunately the poacher never came. We destroyed all his belongings and the bushmeat.

Among the items recovered was a bicycle, 6 big snares and a 10kg bucket of honey.
From the look of the hideout he had camped in the area for some time. The Ithumba team then revisited the Tundani area were we noted a lot of elephant and buffalo tracks around the water hole.
At Umaumma we found a snared dead Dikdik but in comparison to previous months the area did not have a lot of illegal activities which is probably de to well coordinated patrols.

Community Awareness

The first few days of the month were dedicated to community work. The team visited Mkua-Nima to do a follow up on the awareness campaign that had been conducted last month. The community was encouraged to start tree planting activities emphasizing the need to plant indigenous tree species such as Acacia spp, Terminallia brownie, Mvingo, Balanites aegyptiaca and Mellia vonkensii which is heavily harvested for its timber. There is rampant charcoal burning taking place due to the lucrative charcoal market in the Middle East countries. The only option is to encourage the communities to start tree nurseries with indigenous species which can then be bought and planted along the farm boundaries.

The boundary clearance for the fence line extension was completed and the communities need to be thanked for their willingness to work with the de-snaring teams and continue working even in our absence.

The youth clubs at the Kasaala location were kept busy organizing football tournaments. The schools in the surrounding communities are asking to be taken on field trips into the park which is a sign that they want to learnt about the wildlife and preserve their natural habitat.

Report by Patrick Mutuku