Alex Macharia – team leader Francis Chege Semeli Lolchuraki Nterito Kapina James Nuymu Vincent Mutua
During the course of the month of March the following areas were patrolled by the Mtito de-snaring team: Mangerete, Kyulu station, Kenani, Kanga, The Chullu slopes, Ngulia, the Mtito river, the Triangle, the waterholes of Tsavo East, the Laggas, Mbondeni, Nthongoni, the Tsavo river, Mzima springs and the Kisyula caves.
19 SNARES COLLECTED
The month started with the rains coming in torrents which hindered our desnaring activities. For the first two weeks of the month we operated in Tsavo west before the Chyulu team joined us for patrols in Tsavo East for the last two weeks of the month.
During our patrols in the Mangerete area we came across several charcoal kilns. Logging is still a big problem in the area and a major threat to the park.
Patrols in the Ngulia area did not show many signs of illegal human activities. Water signs signaling the presence of poachers were clearly seen but the hideouts that are used by the poachers were bushy and deserted. The presence of herds of buffaloes, elephants and antelopes was promising and showed that game is returning to the area.
Areas that showed a large presence of poachers were Kenani, Kanga and the Kyulu station. Poacher’s footprints were found around the Kenani station leading towards either the Tsavo River or the Kyulu station. The teams followed the footprints and uncovered some items hidden in a bush near Kenani. The items included arrows and other personal effects. An ambush was laid but the poachers never returned. We think that the poacher may have heard us as we approached and escaped leaving his things behind. We find that there has been a decrease in the number of poachers in the area. We feel that this is due to the fact that the poachers have moved to other areas due to our continued presence in the hotspots.
Our patrols around Mbondeni were very successful and we were able to arrest 3 wood carvers operating in the heart of the forest.
There are reports that poachers are using the Nairobi-Mombasa highway to access these areas. The poachers alight from the bus along the way and enter the park through the deserted railway stations.
INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION The 2 team leaders were also involved in the gathering of intelligence information from our various informers. Apparently poachers have changed their areas of operation and methods of poaching. While snaring was a very dominant poaching method, some have opted to use arrows when operating deep in the park. The majority of the poachers are going as far as the Tsavo River and behind Mzima springs for weeks or even months depending on the amount of rations that they carry with them. Another revelation is that the poachers also carry good clothes that they can change into should they need to catch the bus, which is something that makes them even more elusive and able to evade arrest. We visited some of the homesteads around the park, which are used as camps by poachers when entering and leaving the park. On one occasion we found a wood carver and logger coming from the park at about 3pm. This was proof that illegal activities are taking place in the area.
Report by Alex Macharia