AERIAL SURVEILLANCE UNIT MONTHLY REPORT
The unit patrolled extensively throughout Tsavo East and Tsavo West, as well as consistent patrols throughout the northern area of Tsavo East and several trips to Lamu
MONTHLY AERIAL ROUTES
Ongoing aerial coverage with KWS rangers of the Northern Area of Tsavo East has continued. As the park dries up fast the number of elephants around permanent remaining water sources has increased significantly, in turn increasing the number of incidents of illegal activities. To counteract this rise in prohibited activities both the DSWT Aerial Unit and the KWS/DSWT Anti-poaching ground teams are patrolling extensively to achieve a constant security presence, which is more vital than ever at this time of the year. An aerial patrol took place in collaboration with the KWS in Amboseli National Park as two elephant carcasses had been discovered by KWS ground personnel.
MONTHLY FLYING SYNOPSIS
The month began with a response to an attack on Project Amu’s Milhoi Camp in Lamu County, which is part of the Trust’s ‘Saving Habitats’ initiative. One of the DSWT pilots arrived on site on Amu Ranch at 0730 in the Cessna 185 following the report. The camp had been burned to the ground but the 10-man Amu team were all safe having cleverly avoided the raiders who were unknown in numbers. It appears that the motive was to raid the camp for the newly supplied men's rations which were all taken. The team continues to work with Kenyan forces to follow up the attack.
The charcoaling threat along the northern boundary of Tsavo East is being monitored from the air and action is being taken to stop it, whilst the ground teams continue to monitor the area on foot and help to prevent further activities. Large numbers of cattle have also continued to push deep into the park along the Tiva River, whilst regular aerial patrols have been carried out along the Galana River and to the area north of the river, identifying further cattle inside the park around the Lali Hills area where large numbers of elephants have also been present.
Extensive training work has been undertaken by DSWT pilot Nick Trent in collaboration with KWS and two trainee pilots this month in order to ensure the KWS pilots are fully confident with Tsavo and its many challenges including tough bush flying conditions. These training flights were carried out in the KWS Super Cub. Both pilots, having successfully completed their training, are now carrying out regular aerial patrols across Tsavo West National Park adding to the aerial coverage throughout the region. The DSWT team continue to work closely with the KWS in responding to reports and incidents both on the ground and in the air, of which during July a number of these incidents have been related to veterinary intervention.
On the 3rd of July the DSWT helicopter assisted the KWS Senior Warden of Tsavo West at a Graduation Parade at the KWS Manyani Ranger Training Academy. The team was also present to witness the graduation of 21 of the DSWTâ€™s community rangers who had all successfully completed the Academyâ€™s intensive three-month training program. You can read more about the graduation here.
Following reports of a speared elephant within the south-western side of the Chyulu Hills National Park on the 4th July, one of the DSWT pilots spent extensive hours flying in an attempt to locate the victim but sadly he was never sighted again, by either the DSWT aerial unit or the Big Life ground team who had reported the case. On the 5th of July, Nick Trent was alerted of a young elephant calf sighted alone in the southern sector of Tsavo East. Aerial patrols were dedicated to locating the calf over the next couple of days without luck, yet thankfully on the 7th July the calf was spotted by clients flying into a tourist lodge and the DSWT Voi Elephant Keepers were alerted for an immediate ground rescue. You can read more about this story here.
The DSWT Supercub located a large bull elephant in Tsavo West NP on the 23rd July needing urgent medical attention. Helicopter pilot, Humphrey Carter was called in to help with the darting of this elephant alongside the KWS/DSWT Amboseli Vet Unit â€“ the story about this successful treatment can be read here. This time last year the DSWT/KWS Mobile Veterinary Unit for the Tsavo Conservation Area treated in excess of 30 cases, this year for the same month the number of cases has been significantly reduced, which is a positive sign of successful security and anti-poaching measures.
Photographs copyright ÂŠ 2014 The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust