Wambua Kikwatha - team leader John Mungai Henry Lokochari Jacob Dadi Gerald Maghangha 2 KWS rangers
During the course of the month we carried out patrols at Maktau and Ziwani, Lumo and the Kishushe park boundary.
TOTAL SNARES COLLECTED 51
British Army Training For a period of six days, the British army and the British royal marines conducted a field operation training course with all the de-snaring team members.
Kishushe Park Boundary and Tsavo River The Kishuse and Tsavo river stretch has proved to be a unique area, and is the most difficult to patrol as there are no definite tracks or easily accessible cut lines. Assessing this area involves driving along the un-serviced Mzima springs track. This area is frequented by poachers, especially ones poaching elephants, which is why we chose this area to have the field training provided by the British Army.
The de-snaring team and the British army crew set up camp at the old Kishushe Lodge. The first day we walked for about 16kms along the cut line in order to look for any tracks leading to the park from the community land. The cut line is not graded and therefore can only be accessed by trekking. We recovered 5 snares that were made for small game. We observed footprints from 3 different individuals which were a few days old. The second day we carried out a through check at all the main dry riverbeds which have been previously used by poachers. The vegetation in the area is very thick in this area which means the poachers have to use tracks or dry riverbeds to get about. We checked 5 riverbeds but there was no recent indication of poachers being in the area. We recovered 7 snares, 5 of which were for large game. The third day we patrolled along the far end of the park boundary, covering a distance of about 15kms and recovering 22 snares all of which targeted small game. The British team left on the forth day as they had other assignments.
During our operations at Kishushe we sighted a group of giraffes, zebras, lesser kudus and Dikdiks.
Maktau, Lumo Community Sanctuary After our operations at Kishushe we moved to the Maktau where we patrolled the Lumo community sanctuary, the Oza ranch and the general Maktau area. At Maktau snaring was found to have decreased. We did not lift any snares or observe any signs that poaching was taking place. It must be noted that at the beginning of the project this area used to have many snares most of which targeted large game. Currently the only mode of poaching taking place is night poaching. It has been very tricky to address this method due to its complexity.
While patrolling the Lumo sanctuary we found bird traps targeting large birds near the fence line. We approached the farm owner and told him to destroy the traps.
Towards the end of the operation we visited the Ziwani area for a period of 3 days where we checked the park cut line and Muhoho farm. No major activities were found and 5 snares were lifted.
Bushmeat radio programme On the 26th of the month the team leader was called upon to do a one hour radio show at the central station of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. The show was presented in Kikamba as it is the local language of the communities bordering the Tsavo national Park which is one of the areas most hit by poachers. The topic discussed was bushmeat use and how it has impacted the wildlife population and negatively affected the communities’ development. The first half hour of the show was a presentation of the situation with the second half being a call in session whereby the listeners asked questions about what was discussed in the first half. Most of them were alarmed to find out that the animal population is declining and that consequently chases away tourists are choosing to go to other holiday destinations. Many could not believe that bushmeat is being sold in Nairobi and other major towns as normal meat, such as beef. The communities were advised that they need to be proud of their heritage and that they should protect it. They were also told to make good use of their unproductive land for wildlife conservation so that they could also enjoy the benefits that wildlife brings.
Report by Wambua Kikwatha