AERIAL SURVEILLANCE UNIT MONTHLY REPORT
Tsavo East and West National Parks, Chyulu Hills, Kibwezi Forest and bordering Ranches and community areas
MONTHLY AERIAL MAP
The month began with a long search for an orphan elephant near Lugardâ€™s Falls, but generally April was fairly quiet across the Tsavo Region. The baby elephant was eventually sighted and rescued thanks to teamwork from KWS and DSWT ground teams. The rains came mid-month, although they were patchy, turning some parts of Tsavo green and leaving others dry. The rivers however were flowing in full force as there had been heavy rain falling around Mount Kilimanjaro and Nairobi, which feeds the rivers that run through Tsavo. A significant change during the month was in the north of Tsavo East where there were no cattle along the Tiva River, and it was a pleasure to see a regular group of elephants enjoying the tranquillity of the Tiva without competing for water. The KWS have worked hard at overcoming the challenge of cattle encroachment in this area.
MONTHLY AERIAL SUMMARY
Two sets of elephant tusks were spotted from the air and reported and retrieved this month. One pair was sighted from the DSWT Cessna 185, in an open area. The helicopter was thankfully nearby at the time and was able to collect the tusks, delivering them safely to KWS. After follow-up it was sadly noted that this was the carcass of a bull elephant treated by the KWS Vet for bullet injuries using the support of the DSWT helicopter in December 2015. The second pair of tusks were sighted from the helicopter, which landed nearby in a clearing while rangers walked into the thicket to locate and retrieve them. While collecting the tusks it was noted that a poacher had recently walked within 30 metres of the tusks but missed them. This Ivory too was delivered to the KWS Tsavo HQ.
Tusks sighted by the DSWT Cessna in an open area and collected by the helicopter
Three elephant treatments took place using the helicopter and Super Cub this month. One bull was treated for spear wounds on the western side of the Chyulu Hills; the prognosis was good. The second was a bull treated with a hole through his foot, going right through and out the other side. The treatment was successful, but may need a followup, so all teams are monitoring the bull. Here you can see a short film of this bullâ€™s treatment. The third case was a bull treated near Buchuma Gate, located outside the park with an arrow wound. The prognosis for a full recovery was good, but he remained outside the park when an attempt to push him and his six friends through the fence which had been lowered, was not successful. The electric fences prove to be so effective that even when the wire is removed the elephants will not cross the line.
One of the bulls being treated by the DSWT/KWS Veterinary Unit
On three occasions this month the Trust helicopter and Super Cub were called to assist with elephants in community areas. These incidents were followed up urgently, especially after last monthâ€™s turmoil where human-wildlife conflict was at its peak and a child was tragically killed with the community retaliating by killing a big bull who was not related to the incident. This sensitive issue was addressed quickly with KWS and the County Government at the forefront. During April all elephants in community land were returned into the Chyulu Hills NP swiftly. It is because of these challenges that the Trust is funding three vital fence-lines this month. 17 kms of unshortable electric fences are being funded by the DSWT, extending the current fence-line along the boundary of the Chyulu Hills National Park. This will help mitigate these recent human-wildlife conflict incidents. Also another 17 kilometre fence-line is being funded and erected by the DSWT from Voi to Maungu along a very sensitive boundary of Tsavo East National Park, which should again ease any conflict with wildlife in this area into the future.
The Chyulu Hills National Park
Illegal activities sighted this month thankfully were very few including one old shooting blind, one set of fresh bicycle tracks and related fresh logging. Cattle numbers inside Tsavo East were significantly reduced, while cattle numbers in Tsavo West in the southern sector remain high. Large numbers of fish traps and fish nets were also seen in Lake Jipe, along with illegal fishermen in this area. Another significant sighting from the air during April included a bull elephant in Tsavo West who had been treated in October last year for a very bad injury, and he had been given a guarded prognosis for a full recovery, who now appeared to be fully healed, and only remained with a slight limp. A honey badger was sighted from the air too going about his daily chores as well as Grevyâ€™s Zebras and a beautiful leopard, quietly sitting by a waterhole.
Illegal fishing and netting at Lake Jipe
Illegal logging activities sighted from the air and followed up by ground teams
A monthly report from the DSWT Aerial Unit operating in the Tsavo Conservation Area