Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 September 2008

Ndovu Team Ithumba Update: 01 September 2008

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Participants

Patrick Mutuku Mutua Koti Lemanten Lambarakwe James Lodungokiyok Musau Kitulya 2 KWS Rangers – David Kimeli & Stephen Wambugu

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered included Kalovoto, Mathae, Power line, Kyae-rock, Tundani, Macho-kobo, Kyamanyenze, Wamata, Kanziko, Umbi, and Lagga-kugu.

256 SNARES COLLECTED 2 ARRESTS

Findings During the month of August the Ithumba team managed to lift a total of 256 snares. 12 of which targeted big game and the rest targeted small game. The team arrested 2 notorious elephant poachers near Ithumba mudbath. Unfortunately 2 poachers managed to escape being captured and arrested.

Observable Evidence

During the dry season the wildlife tends to move closer to watering points. Therefore the poaching activities also move in this pattern. The main evidence of poaching activities includes shooting platforms and human footprints mainly leading to water points in the park. The team placed more of its time and patrols around the water areas of the park to tackle the changing patterns of poaching. As noted in last months report there is an increasing amount of poachers hunting for elephants for ivory. The poaching styles have changed from snaring (which is not target specific, any animal can get trapped) to more animal specific hunting using poison arrows & lamping.

Kalovoto, Mathae, Power line, Kyae-rock areas: The poachers have changed their hunting techniques therefore the team had to adapt to tackling this and also changed our techniques in order to succeed. On our 1st week of the month we patrolled using the vehicle & opened up old blocked sections if the road. On the 7th of September the team was patrolling near the Ithumba mudbath were the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts orphans bath daily. The team spotted some fresh foot prints of suspected 4 elephant poachers. The team followed their trial for 2Km when finally the team was able to have the poachers close enough to see. The team crept up on the unsuspecting poachers, who were taking a rest under a tree. Unfortunately during the capture 2 poachers managed to narrowly escape. The poachers were in possession of 4 bows, 18 poison arrows, 2 knives, an axe, 7 big snares, 27 small snares and 1 dead Dikdik.

After interrogation the poachers confessed they were the wild elephants which of late have joined the orphaned elephants of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. There are several wild elephants which regularly visit the stockades and the orphaned elephant of the Trust. These wild elephants have bonded with the Trusts orphaned elephants & visit frequently.
The new senior Warder of Tsavo East National Park happened to be nearby with KTN News Crew. They interviewed the 2 arrested poachers who were later taken to Mutomo Police Station.

Stray Domestic Dog case: The following day the team spotted a domestic dog that was hovering between the orphans stockade and the Ithumba bandas. This was a sure sign that the owner/poacher was nearby as it is very unusual to find domestic dogs this far into the national park. The team patrolled the eastern side of the Ithumba Stockade and just 2 km from the stockades the team found fresh foot prints. This was a worrying sign that the poachers were staking out and targeting the wild elephants that visit the orphaned elephants. The team intensified its patrols around the stockade area, the mudbath, and all other water points along the Tiva River to prevent such a tragedy. During these patrols the team lifted 68 snares.

Patrols at Tundani, Macho-kobo, Kyamanyenze, and Wamata: The area along the river Tiva stretch has a high concentration of wildfire due to availability of water during the dry season. At Macho-kobo the team lifted 60 snares targeting small game and discovered a poacher’s camp with a shooting platform.

The team found 2 dead snared Dikdik, one of which had been half eaten by a predator.
This area is marked by plenty of footprints along Tiva River. Patrols at Wamata yielded no snares and the area was low in illegal human activities.

Patrols at Kanziko, Umbi, and Lagga-kugu The fence attendants informed the team that they had seen some footprints along the Kanziko fence line. The team tracked down these footprints and lifted 110 snares targeting small game. Another dead Dikdik was found. At Umbi the team tracked fresh bicycle tracks leading out of the park.

Community Awareness campaign On the 25th of September the team staged a wildlife video at Tsavo Primary School. After the film we gave a brief lecture on conservation issues to the students. The Tsavo Primary School community has been very co-operative in conservation efforts.

On the 28th of September Kasaala Secondary School organized a trip to the park. They used the KWS mini bus and requested the Ithumba Team leader to accompany them. They visited the Shetani Caves and visited the Trusts orphaned elephants at the mudbath. They really enjoyed seeing the orphaned elephants which were accompanied by a wild bull.
Later the group headed to Lugards Falls and on the way the saw Kiasa Hill.
At Lugards falls they saw wild elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, ostrich, and hippopotamus. The group also visited the Park Headquarters and saw the dog section Unit. Overall the trip was a success and the student & teachers enjoyed the day.

Report by Patrick Mutuku