Chui Team Mtito Update: 01 December 2005

Chui Team Mtito Update: 01 December 2005

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Participants

James Mbuthia – team leader Feisal Muteti Francis Chege Masaku Mbanga Kathuki Ngongo 2KWS Rangers – Mr. Oyugi and Mr. Mwasia

Areas Covered

The areas that we visited this month were The Mtito river stretch from the Athi confluence to Matangini, parts of the Triangle some of Tsavo west especially the pipeline, the waterholes, the Yatta and Cotters camp.

361 SNARES COLLECTED

Findings

A total of 361 snares were lifted and 3 people arrested. One of the people arrested was a bushmeat poacher who was poaching on the Yatta using the lamping method.

He was arrested in possession of 42 Dikdks and a bicycle that he used to hawk the meat.
The culprit allegedly came from Makutano.
The other two individuals that were arrested were illegally grazing their cattle in the park, which has been happening more often due to the prolonged drought that has afflicted the area the past 3 years. The snares that we lifted were fresh but had yet to trap anything. The presence of people in the park will continue to increase if the drought persists. The de-snaring team will therefore have to carry out more operations in order to put pressure on the poachers and increase the number of arrests made.

GENERAL OVERVIEW OF 2005 The year yielded highest number of arrests to date, especially of bushmeat poachers, showing that our de-snaring efforts have been very successful. Over the years the team has bettered itself by modifying its operational methods by learning from past mistakes. We spend more time walking in the bush in pursuit of poachers, and setting well planned ambushes. The devotion of the team members and the support that we receive from KWS has contributed to our success.

TRAINING In order to increase the team’s efficiency it was important for the team to become better acquainted with all the different bush skills needed for a team to be highly effective in the field. The trust organized a training programme run by the British Army.

This was attended by all the de-snaring teams. We were taught how to read a map and use a compass, how to give first aid, different forms of communication, how to best set an ambush
and organize our operations as well as how to carry our arrests with minimum amount of risk to the team members.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS PROJECT Since the inception of the project in 1999 tremendous success has been made. The main objective of the project was to bridge the gap between conservation and the park’s neighboring communities. There was a need to sensitize the communities about the importance of wildlife as a natural resource and the need to conserve it. The fight to control poaching and the bushmeat trade is a constant struggle and we have found that it is important to involve the people and surrounding the park so that they would work in conjunction with us by providing us with information that could lead to the arrest of poachers and hopefully eventually eradicating poaching all together.

The trust’s objective has been to reduce the community’s dependency on the park and has done this by helping the community in several ways. 1. TEXT BOOK DONATIONS: The following schools have benefited from donations given to the trust by their donors. Kamunyu, Ngiluni, Kyusiani, Iviani and Kikwasuni primary schools who have received books valued at 1.5million shillings. 2. SCHOOL FIELD TRIPS: Nine schools visited Tsavo West National park so as to see and experience the large variety of wildlife in its natural environment as the young people of today are the future custodians of wildlife. 3. SPORTS EQUIPMENT: Linking conservation and sports is a priority as it reduces idleness and boredom which could lead to poaching. 4. TREE PLANTING PROJECT: At the trust nursery seedlings are raised and later distributed to the communities for planting. This teaches people the importance of plating trees. Some homesteads that received seedlings previously had no shade as there were no trees on their properties. Due to this project the amount of charcoal burning taking place has slowly been decreasing. The demand from the communities for seedlings surpasses the trust’s capabilities showing that there has been a change in the people’s attitudes towards their surrounding environment. 5. JAMBO PROJECT: Last year a cross-cultural programme was introduced aimed at bringing together Kenyan children with children from the USA. They exchange letters and ideas, hopes and dreams as well as telling each other about their respective countries. Through this project a school has benefited by receiving desks built with money donated by their American friends. FUTURE PROJECTS In the future we intend to start projects aimed at economically empowering the communities surrounding the park. One such project is the BEE KEEPING PROJECT. The money derived from selling the harvested honey will meet the people’s needs thus reducing their dependency on the parks resources. Report by James Mbuthia