AERIAL SURVEILLANCE UNIT MONTHLY REPORT
Patrols have been carried out across the Tsavo Ecosystem and Lamu County. Focus has been on the Northern Area of Tsavo East, the Southern Sector of Tsavo East and the Ranches to the south of Tsavo East.
MONTHLY AERIAL ROUTES
Tsavo continued to enjoy rains through April, with the Athi River and Tiva River in high flow during the first half of the month and waterholes filled across Tsavo. The first half of April was quiet, with few sightings of illegal activity as regular aerial patrols were carried out; the second half saw increased poaching activities.
MONTHLY FLYING SYNOPSIS
Even though the rains have been ongoing the numbers of cattle sighted inside both Tsavo East and Tsavo West NPs has been on the high side, particularly within the southern end of Tsavo West and the eastern side of Tsavo East. This is particularly concerning when elephants have been congregating in large numbers within these areas, as it is known that any illegal intrusion in the Parks habitually has an effect on the numbers of elephants targeted for their ivory.
With these large numbers of elephants congregating in the Southern Sector of Tsavo East NP poachers have been increasingly active. Large numbers of vultures have been seen during the monthâ€™s aerial patrols feeding on elephant carcasses. Vultures are valuable in searching and locating caracasses whilst also seeing this threatened bird in such large numbers indicates a healthy comeback in vulture populations.
One young bull elephant was reported to the DSWT HQs by the Ithumba Stockade Head Keeper as the bull was visibly injured and in very poor health. Dr. Poghon of the DSWT/KWS Mobile Veterinary Unit was immediately flown to Ithumba to treat the elephant, which after doing well sadly collapsed and had to be put down as his wounds, which were from several poisoned arrows, were too much for him to recover from. You can read more about this story here. A KWS vet was also flown to the Shimba Hills to treat another bull with an injury on his leg, thankfully the elephantâ€™s wound was healing well and a good prognosis of survival was given.
Numerous calls to attend to gunshots occurred in the second half of the month indicating still the sudden rise in poacher activity. A total of eight very fresh elephant carcasses (all killed by gunshot) were sighted, with three sets of those tusks being recovered, along with one tusk recovered from a carcass in the Tiva River (cause of death unknown). You can read more about one of these stories here.
Photographs copyright ÂŠ 2014 The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust