Chui Team Mtito Update: 01 December 2008

Chui Team Mtito Update: 01 December 2008

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Participants

Alex Macharia – team leader Francis Chege Semeli Lolchuraki Nterito Kapina James Nuymu Vincent Mutua 4 KWS rangers

Areas Covered

During the course of the month of December the following areas were patrolled by the Mtito de-snaring team: the Mtito River, Iviani, the triangle area, Kenani, Kanga, Mangerete and Rhino Valley.

67 SNARES COLLECTED 7 ARRESTS

Findings

Mtito River/Iviani: The Mtito River including the Iviani section is an area that needs to be visited by the team on a monthly basis due to the fact that there is a community area that borders the park. The community members have been found to encroach into the park for the purposes of logging, charcoal burning and poaching.

This month the team was able to arrest 2 charcoal burners and other 2 charcoal burners who were also engaged in poaching.
The 4 were arrested while preparing their charcoal kilns. Upon interrogation they told us that while waiting for the charcoal they planned to set snares in order to get some bushmeat that they could sell. They directed us to the area where they had set the snares and we were able to lift them all before they could inflict harm on and kill any animals.
In total the culprits had set 14 large snares. The team destroyed the kilns before taking the 4 to be booked at the Mtito Andei police station.

The Triangle: This area covers an extension to Tsavo east National park extending up to Mtito Andei. It includes a small centre that doubles as a market centre and is an area dominated by poachers who use it as a station for their trophies. Most of the poached game trophies can be found in this market centre. 27 small snares were lifted in the triangle.

Kenai/Kana areas: Both of these areas are considered to be poaching hotspots due to their proximity to the Mombasa Nairobi Highway. Most of the poachers operating in the area are believed to use the train or other public transportation when accessing these areas. Both areas are found deep in the park where there are limited ranger patrols and the poachers are better able to carry out their illegal activities. The team was able to lift 9snares during its patrols. We also came across a Matatu Nissan that we believe had been carjacked and hidden in the park.

The vehicle was reported to the police station for investigation and follow up. The team came across the carcass of a dead elephant in the Kanga area; we believe that the elephant had been shot by poachers with poisoned arrows.

Mangerete: The boundary of Tsavo West National park borders the Ukambani area which has been found to be an entry route to the park for both poachers and loggers. A logger was arrested in the area and was booked at Mtito Police station.

Many kilns were seen along the boundary to the park where community members enter the park, cut trees and take the logs to the shambas to prepare kilns there instead of to the park. They do this in an effort to avoid arrest. 17 snares were lifted during our patrols in the area.

Rhino Valley: This area is now considered to be a death zone by poachers after a shoot on sight order handed down to KWS allowing them to kill on site any poachers seen in the Rhino Valley. The reason for this is that several rhino have been released into the areas to browse. The rhino are under constant watch from the patrolling rangers. For this reason the area has been names as an IPZ, Intensive Patrol Zone. Although there is the threat of death for any poacher found in the area the team still came across several footprints from three different individuals. We followed the footprints which led us to a hideout where the poachers had spent the night.

The team laid an ambush for the period of 8 hours waiting for them to return for their possessions. We were able to arrest 2 of the individuals.
Unfortunately the third culprit, a young man, was able to evade arrest. The individuals were found to be in possession of 16 poisoned arrows, an axe and some knives. They confessed to having killed the elephant whose carcass had been found in the Kanga area. One of the arrested poachers was familiar to the team as he had been arrested in the triangle two years ago in possession of poisoned arrows, with the intent to kill elephants. The poacher’s wares were burned and destroyed.

Report by Alex Macharia