AERIAL SURVEILLANCE UNIT MONTHLY REPORT
73.8 HOURS FLOWN
9972.6 KMS COVERED
Tsavo East and West National Parks, Chyulu Hills, Kibwezi Forest, bordering Ranches and community areas and the Sokoke Forest
MONTHLY AERIAL SUMMARY
May was a quiet month for the Aerial Surveillance Unit although the pilots patrolled nearly 10,000 kms over the Tsavo Conservation Area spending a combined 74 hours in the air helping to keep a tight security presence over the region. As the dry season approaches elephants have started to spread out, searching for remaining waterholes as many begin to dry up. What has been a heart-warming sight is the large numbers of baby elephants sighted in healthy family herds throughout the month.
MONTHLY AERIAL SUMMARY
In Northern Tsavo East, towards the eastern boundary within the Ndia Ndaza area the supercub sighted many cattle enclosures which had been constructed by herders illegally entering the park to graze their cattle. Sightings of these enclosures were made to the east and west of the area and it was noted that there was a considerable increase in cattle numbers. Cattle intrusion is an ongoing threat to the park and its wildlife and the KWS and DSWT continue to deploy teams to evict the herders and livestock whilst aerial patrols help to create a security presence.
Cattle illegally grazing in the Park and being pushed out by DSWT aircraft
Cattle herders building enclosures and corals in the Park
Two elephants required veterinary treatment with help from the DSWT aircraft during May. One had a tumour on its side and the other was darted from a helicopter and treated for an old arrow wound in northern Tsavo. Both elephants were treated successfully by the DSWT funded Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit and KWS Veterinary Officer Dr Poghon, who gave both elephants a good prognosis.
One of the bulls being treated by the DSWT/KWS Veterinary Unit
The DSWT opens its doors to a host of orphaned wild animals. This month a kudu was rescued from Assa, which is a small community between Tsavo East and Garsen. This new baby kudu joins two others that were rescued from the same place earlier in the year. DSWT teams have been working with the local communities in this area to try and increase awareness of wildlife protection and potential conflict with wild animals and their habitats to prevent further animals from being orphaned, yet some cases are caused by natural circumstances and predation from other wild animals.
This month KWS called upon the DSWT to help provide aerial support within the beautiful coastal Sokoke Forest as there had been reports of an injured elephant sighted there. Despite our best efforts this elephant was not located, however a DSWT/KWS anti-poaching ground teams will be providing assistance to help search the area on foot. The DSWT/KWS Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Team spent a number of days on the ground in Sokoke also searching for the injured bull and remain on call should he be sighted again On routine patrols over the Chyulu Hills National Park, one of the DSWT supercubs spotted charcoal burning with new charcoal kilns having been built recently, all of which was duly dealt with by the DSWT/KWS ground teams. In the hills the pilot also sighted a marijuana plantation which was reported to the KWS whilst the DSWT ground teams were alerted of all sightings for follow-up patrols.
Other operations for the Aerial Unit included support for communities with the DSWT supercub working hard to push elephants who had strayed into community lands back into the protection of the Kibwezi Forest and Chyulu Hills National Park thereby preventing any human-wildlife conflict. A shooting blind was also discovered from the air whilst scouting the Yatta area. A report was immediately made to the KWS/DSWT anti-poaching teams for them to investigate the area, destroy the blind and search for any presence of poachers. Daily patrolling ensures poaching activities are thwarted, however as the Park dries off poaching incidents do rise, as does human-wildlife conflict, so we are now heading into the most challenging part of the year, particularly as the April/May rains have been exceptionally poor within the Tsavo landscape.