Chui Team Mtito Update: 01 July 2005
James Mbuthia Mutua Koti Feisal Muteti Francis Chege Masaku Mbanga CPL Mwangi - KWS CPL Lekoiten - KWS Patrick Macharia - KWS Kenneth Kamuyu - KWS
633 SNARES COLLECTED
A total of 633 snares were lifted and 16 people were arrested. Of those arrested 9 were bush meat poachers, 1 was a logger and charcoal burner and 6 were cattle grazers. The majority of the snares found targeted Dikdiks. We also confiscated 4 bicycles that were used to transport bush meant, torches, electric klaxons and slashers. We were able to rescue 4 Dikdiks and one baboon from snares that they had been caught in. In general the illegal activities in the park are on the increase which forced the team to work tirelessly through out the month. Our ambushes and operations were more successful as we applied some new techniques which enabled us to make more arrests. Due to the prolonged drought that has been experienced this year there has been an increase in the number of livestock that is being brought into the park to graze from Kathekani, Drajoni, Nthunguni, Iviani, Randi and Ngumo. This means that the wildlife is now competing with the livestock for grass and time at the waterholes which causes conflict as the herdsmen feel that they have no where else to graze their cattle and it is illegal to graze cattle within the parks boundaries. The continuous cutting down of trees for charcoal burning threatens the catchment of the Mtito River especially in the Yumtuni and Mangelete areas. We have noticed that due to deforestation the swamps in the areas are slowly drying up. A lot of charcoal kilns were spotted all along the Mtito and Athi Rivers. The bush meat trade is an every increasing problem as the poachers are always changing their routs, as well as their areas of operation and their poaching styles. The 5 poachers that were arrested at Mwakila were camping by the Athi river while en-route to the Yatta. They were armed with masses of snares which targeted hippos and antelopes. We re-arrested one poacher, who is believed to be an ivory poacher. We interrogated him trying to find out who his accomplices were. The biggest challenge currently facing the de-snaring team is the use of lamping as poaching method, as it is more effective than snares in killing the animals being targeted. The routes that are most active and thus frequently used by the poachers were repeatedly checked by the team. As the drought continues our greatest challenge is the protection of the park and the wildlife that lives in it. The poachers that were arrested were tried and convicted in court. Sadly the sentences handed down by the court are very lenient and thus not enough of a deterrent for the poachers to stop poaching, thus after their release they simply return to the park and continue carrying out their illegal activities. Due to the fact that the wildlife act is weak, there is an ever increasing need for law enforcement and stakeholders in conservation to create awareness about the importance of harsher sentences for poachers. Without the help of the KWS rangers our operations and ambushes would not have been as successful as they were. We thank the KWS rangers for their continued support and help in fighting the poachers.
Report by James Mbuthia