AERIAL SURVEILLANCE UNIT MONTHLY REPORT
108.2 HOURS FLOWN
14,157 KMS COVERED
Tsavo East and West National Parks, Amboseli National Reserve, Kishushe Ranch, Mbulia Ranch, Oza Ranch
MONTHLY AERIAL ROUTES
Typically, when Tsavo dries out there is a rise in illegal activity, especially elephant poaching, which is made easier for the poachers when elephants begin to congregate around fewer, shrinking waterholes and springs. July was no exception, with a sharp increase in poaching in many parts of the Park towards the end of the month.
MONTHLY FLYING SYNOPSIS
Early in the month a bull elephant was treated in Ithumba with a severe injury behind its left front leg. The elephant was first noticed at the Ithumba stockade with an infected abrasion on its chest, and later found again by a DSWT aircraft at which time the more serious injury was seen. Treating the elephant proved extremely difficult as after it had been darted from the DSWT helicopter, it walked across a dry river bed, which could not be crossed by car. This meant that the helicopter had to ferry men across with water and supplies to assist the vet. When the reversal drug was administered to counteract the anaesthetic the elephant struggled to get to his feet, then suddenly with four men including the vet standing nearby, the elephant charged the men who had to run for their lives. Two of the men ran up trees, one of which was flattened by the charging elephant forcing the ranger to leap clear of the falling branches before making a clean escape. The elephant then turned on the others who only escaped when a heavy cold box full of veterinary supplies was dropped in its path causing the elephant to stop and attack the box, which gave the men enough time to get away.
During the month, the helicopter also attended to four other elephants with the Tsavo and Amboseli veterinary units. One had a severely fractured leg from a bullet wound and had to be put down, but three others were successfully treated including a calf with an arrow wound and a badly infected knee joint, and two other bull elephants â€” one with an arrow wound and the other with a spear wound. In addition to these cases, one of the DSWTâ€™s fixed wing aircraft assisted in transporting the Tsavo Vet to Amboseli to treat an elephant with spear wounds in the absence of the Amboseli vet who was away for a veterinary conference.
Illegal activities sighted in July included several old shooting blinds, one old shooting platform as well as charcoal burning and significant livestock grazing, both in the north of Tsavo East around Ndiandaza and also in the southern sector of Tsavo West. There has been increased pressure due to an anticipated drought, however, KWS has been responding promptly and were able to evict many of these livestock and continue to push them out of the Park back into the communities from which they come.
Having had a relatively incident free month in terms of poaching, a major blow came on the 27th when shots rang out near Ziwani in Tsavo West. The following morning, 5 elephant carcasses were discovered near Loosoito Hill. A massive joint effort involving DSWT aerial and ground units as well as the KWS, and Big Life Foundation with the help of tracking dogs resulted in the arrest of 3 suspects connected with the slaughter. There are another 4 suspects still at large, but we understand that their days are numbered. A part of the investigation uncovered a small orphan elephant under the age of one, which was rescued by the DSWT but sadly did not survive. You can read more about this story here.