Isaac Maina – team leader Patrick Mutuku – team leader Abdi Adan Samuel Lolchuraki Nderitu Kapina James Lodungkiyok Lemanten Lambarakwe Julius Mumo Mutua Koti 4 KWS Rangers: Charles Chepokwony, Brandson Koboi, Peter Adero, Isaac Melly
During the course of this month the Gazi Ithumba team worked in together and patrolled the following areas: Umbi, the Kasaala fence line, Kanziko, Umaumaa, Kalovoto, the Power line, Gazi, the Yatta and Athi river section upstream, Sheldricks blind and the Nthalakana airstrip.
TOTAL SNARES COLLECTED 725 ARRESTS 9
At the onset of the month we organized a combined operation so that the Gazi and Ithumba de-snaring teams would be working together. We started our operations at Umbi as we had received reports of heavy snaring taking place in the area. We were able t life 245 snares and noticed a lot of bicycle tracks which we were unable to follow as their tracks had been well concealed. We also found evidence of logging at Umbi.
On the 4th of February we arrested a poacher along the Kasaala-Tiva fence line who was in possession of 58 small snares. Following a tip-off from an informer we followed poacher’s tracks from Kimathenya, which passes behind the Elephant stockades. Unfortunately the poacher escaped out of the park leaving being 50 snares, an axe and all his camping gear. We them flew over the Yatta / Gazi area were we noted that there was logging, charcoal burning and cattle grazing taking place in excess, and planned to move our operations immediately to that area. The charcoal burners were concentrating their activities along the river so that they can see people approaching and easily evade arrest.
When patrolling in and around the Gazi area we were able to arrest 4 poachers, which was an accomplishment as this area is inaccessible and requires walking 26km in order to reach the river. The opening of a road which would run parallel to the river up to Gazi would save time and make things easier. 10 charcoal burners were able to evade arrest, as they were alerted to our presence by other people or the noise of the vehicle.
Following Gazi we moved our operations to Sheldricks blind where we were able to arrest 1 poacher although another 2 escaped. The poacher was released by the warden due to his advanced age and so that he could be used as an informer. We laid several ambushes along the fence line which led to the arrest of 3 poachers, two of whom were found in possession of elephant tusks and buffalo meat. They were all booked at Mutomo police station and are awaiting the outcome of the court case.
COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
Two schools, Kimweli primary and Kavete primary, were show conservation films this month. The desks that had been made for Tsavo primary and Kavete primary schools were completed and handed over to them. During the ceremony the desnaring team members together with KWS educated the community about the negative impacts of poaching. The parents pledged to help us with our anti-poaching efforts. We held a Baraza at Kimweli in order to sensitize the community about conservation and teach them other ways in which they could earn a living that did not require them to be dependent on the park. We explored the issue of reviving a bee keeping project which had been previously started by KWS. Finally we held meetings with reformed poachers in order to try and get them to influence the other poachers into changing their ways. Report by Isaac Maina and Patrick Mutuku