A day in the Tsavo Conservation Area - 19th October

Deep in the field at the Kaluku headquarters a day can hold many dramatic possibilities

Deep in the field at the Kaluku headquarters a day can hold many dramatic possibilities. At first light the land comes alive and the day begins in a flurry of activity with the anti-poaching ground teams heading out on their daily patrols, coordinated over the buzzing radio from the HQ, whilst the aerial unit takes to the skies, supporting the Kenyan Wildlife Service and their security teams in protecting the greater Tsavo Conservation Area. A report is soon being called over the radio that a sub-adult lioness has mauled a night guard and another member of staff at a camp along the Athi River only a few kilometres away from the Trust's field HQ. After communications are passed, the KWS are despatched to the camp where the lion had been terrorising the staff, who had taken to the roof for safety, waiting for help to come. This lion was clearly disturbed and had visible wounds on its front leg, which could have been causing its extremely aggressive behaviour. Another intriguing explanation could be from a scene that was witnessed the day before from our Field Manager's house, where a mother and her sub-adult cub were drinking from the river near to the camp and were suddenly attacked by a large crocodile. Within seconds and under the cover of great splashes of water the juvenile lion has disappeared into the river with the crocodile. The mother lion had immediately followed her cub into the water in desperation, soon clambering back out onto the shore before diving in again in an attempt to find her adolescent child. All night the mother called frantically through the darkness in search of the missing lion until her calls faded and she followed the river away from the camp. Perhaps the sub-adult lion had survived but with serious injuries from the crocodile, finding itself on the shore of the camp. During the morning at the same time as the lion report another call was made over the radio to the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary unit who were at the time in Amboseli National Reserve. A wounded elephant had been sighted, again not far from the Trust's Field HQ known as Kaluku along the Athi River, with a suspected poison arrow wound. The lone elephant had been spotted taking refuge near a farm and had been there for a couple of days. With the report the vet and mobile unit began their journey from Amboseli to Kaluku in order to locate and treat the elephant.

Another division of the DSWT Kaluku team were in Voi whilst the drama at the HQ was taking place, following up on a project to remove old concrete pipes and debris left scattered through Tsavo East National Park, from repairs done to the Mzima Springs to Mombasa water pipeline. This piping and rubble has been littering the environment of Tsavo East for many years, unnecessarily spoiling the landscape, so the DSWT has invested time and resources in order to employ members of the local communities to help KWS to remove all the debris left. The mission entailed serious manpower in loading and translocating the huge hunks of broken concrete piping weighing up to 800kg, which numbered over forty fragments. This work has just begun and will take several days of hard labour in order to complete, leaving Tsavo East free of blemishes on the landscape for both the wildlife and the human visitors of the Park.
Back at Kaluku the KWS team had located the problem lioness who remained within the camp compound. They made the decision that she was to be put down, with problem animals such as these, which have sought to attack people so aggressively, the KWS have a duty to make hard decisions such as these. The two people who were attacked by the lion were immediately taken for emergency treatment at a hospital in Voi, whilst although traumatised from the event, the rest of the staff at the camp are all safe and well. By midday the Tsavo vet, Dr Poghon ahad arrived and was able to inspect the lion carcass that KWS had bought to Kaluku. A sub adult with existing injuries to the right front leg would be explanation enough for her aggressive behavior. Later that afternoon the team headed to the scene of the wounded elephant, The elephant, which hadnt moved far in the last couple of days, had again been sighted not far from its last position and was being monitored by the DSWT Mtito team antipoaching team in thick bush. The mobile veterinary unit was directed to the site and the vet walked into the bush for a closer look, seeing that the elephant was indeed injured and was a serious enough case for darting. The darting equipment was immediately prepared and the team walked back into the bush, but the vet couldnt get a clear shot through the thick scrub. The team edged closer and closer until the elephant eventually got nervous and turned on them, chasing the team back to the road. With the distress of the elephant and with the dusk rolling in, the decision was made to reschedule the treatment for the following morning, hoping that the elephant would again not stray far.
This is just another day for the task force of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working from the Kaluku Field headquarters in Tsavo.

Every day the teams, are working hard to ensure the safety of Tsavos wildlife and wild places, utilising all their skills of the bush in order to support the KWS in a mission to protect this vast environment.

Please remember our teams cannot continue this vital mission without your support during a time which so desperately needs help more than ever. To donate towards our antipoaching work: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/is/donate_now_desnaring.asp