Participants Wambua Kikwatha James Mbuthia Jacob Mati (trainee) Julius Mwania Wario Dida KWS Rangers Hussein Kala Kyalo Muthoka in camp
For the last three months successive desnaring operations have been concentrated at Mangelete area to keep up the pressure. During the first two operations (August and September) hundreds of snares were lifted, dead animals found and some others rescued in time.
A total of 211 snares were lifted during this operation, less than half the number collected in the September operation. We found no dead animals. 90% of the snares targeted medium sized game like impala, a few large buffalo snares, and a few dik dik snares. The area has one permanent natural salt lick near the Park boundary which unfortunately attracts animals which are then very close to community crops etc.
The area on this boundary, close to the headwaters of the Mtito River,has a much higher agricultural potential with good quality water for irrigation, unlike the communities downstream where the water gets more and more saline. This area needed community activity desperately.
We worked very hard on the community this month. October was also the month where the leadership of this de-snaring team was taken over by James Mbuthia. Wambua is to start a new team operating in the Northern Area of Tsavo East, and amongst the communities bordering the Northern boundaries of the Park.
An intensive evaluation was carried out to determine how successful we actually are in the community. The whole project area was visited and various individuals interviewed. An evaluation report was written, and the findings are clear – we are on the right path.
We also managed to organize a field trip into Tsavo West for Kyusyani Wildlife Club and their teachers. This was a first for all these people and they were overwhelmed with the experience, as a letter from one of the students describes. Interestingly, the pupils practiced the conservation principle we teach, “leave the places you visit better than you found them”. At Mzima Springs, they collected litter and burned the contents of the dustbins leaving everything clean and tidy.
On the Sports front, the community football club received two balls and a net from the Sheldrick Trust. A match was staged between three teams on the presentation day. Badminton is also being introduced, especially for the younger children.
We showed two wildlife films after the games. Two weeks after the presentation of these sports aids, our team came second in a regional contest organized by some prominent Mombasa based sports interested people, and won two new balls.
Tree planting activities are expected to kick off in early November when the rains start. Tree seedlings that have been germinated by the home team have been distributed to Iviani, Ngiluni, and Nthunguni. The demand for these seedlings outstrips our supply and as a result we will be initiating nurseries at strategic places within the community where access to water is favourable. This move will help communities solve their own problems. Iviani Wildlife Club is willing to establish a big tree nursery to serve the whole community.
The declining poaching incidence from Mtito town downstream to Kamunyu is an example of how successful the community component has been. We targeted the community upstream in the Mangelete area as well daily in the afternoons after de-snaring sweeps. This greatly reduced traveling costs and time, because the community operation base is far from this area. Schools visited include Iviani, Nthunguni, Mbetwani, Miangeni, Kikwasuni, Joanna Chase, and Mangelete. Prior to the desnaring operation, we visited Kamunyu, Ngiluni, Misani, and Kyusyani. In the new schools visited a wide range of problems similar to those found downstream were observed. Some schools have incomplete structures, and a lack of school books and reading materials. Only one school had started a wildlife club which was dormant. We set the modalities of starting clubs in these schools as well as reviving the dormant one. Follow ups will be undertaken in November.
Joanna Chase, a large secondary school in Mtito was also visited. We delivered a talk on the qualifications for a conservationist and the implementation of good conservation. This was along the lines of a talk delivered by Mrs. Daphne Sheldrick to the Youth for Conservation Members last year.
Report compiled by Wambua Kikwatha and James Mbuthia