In partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service the DSWT has established a new mobile anti-poaching team, which was rolled out for the first time in August 2014. This is a fully mobile team which will be deployed where needed most. Currently this 7-man ranger unit, which includes 2 armed KWS rangers, is operating in Meru National Park, where the Senior KWS Warden requested support to help eradicate the high levels of bushmeat poaching threatening the future of this important ecosystem. Fully funded by the DSWT, this unit operates with a 4x4 vehicle, field equipment and a full camping set-up. The team have all graduated from the KWS Manyani Ranger Training Academy in Tsavo West and have the ability to create a tight security presence in areas being brazenly targeted by poachers and wildlife offenders.
This unit was made possible thanks to the generosity of one individual and has already experienced great success in apprehending poachers and deterring further illegal activities within the Meru National Park ecosystem. Within the first three weeks of operation the Yatta Mobile Anti-Poaching Unit as it has been called has arrested 8 prominent bush-meat poachers, confiscated 55 poisoned arrows formed to target elephants and larger game, whilst having lifted nearly 300 assorted wire and cable snares laid to capture a variety of animals from dik-diks to giraffes and elephants. The Yatta team joins our David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust/KWS Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit headed by Dr. Bernard Rono, which while covering a huge region in northern Kenya, is also based from Meru National Park.
The challenges facing Meru National Park are certainly a threat to this key wildlife habitat and the Yatta Unit together with KWS will continue to patrol the greater ecosystem to ensure such activities are brought to an end, saving the lives of countless wild species. The Kenya Wildlife Service has been extremely cooperative in working together with this new team and the Park authorities are delighted by their results.
348 kms from Nairobi, Meru National Park encompasses 870 km2, and borders both the Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves as well as Kora National Park. The whole conservation area is 4000 km2 in extent. The western boundary of the Park is punctuated by the Nyambeni Mountains which rise to 2500 meters above sea level and are blanketed by protected forests acting as a vital water catchment system making this National Park one of Kenya’s most unique and stunning. With 13 permanent rivers following through it the abundance of water, despite the area being essentially arid, gives Meru a great variety of habitats, mammals and birds.
The DSWT now operates nine anti-poaching units, of which eight are based within the Tsavo Conservation Area, whilst the Trust also helps fund an additional KWS rapid response unit based from the Tsavo River in Tsavo East. Anti-Poaching is a vital tool in the elimination of poaching, bush-meat snaring, logging and charcoal activities as well as illegal intrusion into the protected areas, and will continue to be a key responsibility of the DSWT where solutions are constantly being sought to overcome the pressures being placed on Kenya’s wildlife and wild places.
You can read the Yatta Unit's first report from Meru National Park here