6 August 2006
The Members Gathering continued with the viewing of Mr. Jonathan Scott’s five part video “Elephant Diaries”. The video chronicles the lives of orphaned elephants from their nursery days at Daphne Sheldrick’s elephant orphanage adjacent to Nairobi National Park, to their eventual release into the wild. The film emphasizes the enormous commitment and involvement of Ms. Sheldrick and her team throughout the entire process; from the precarious capture of the orphan under extremely traumatic circumstances; delicately nurturing the young elephant; braving the risk of bodily injury during transport to the release site; encouraging the maturing elephants into confidence for complete return to the wild. Essential to the success of this process is correct bonding and mentoring between elder and younger elephants. Elephant relationships are complex, relying upon recognition, trust, respect, and intelligence.
“Elephant Diaries” reveals the power and soul that elephants possess, and how human intervention can create positive renewal.
The Sikand family went on safari from 21 July – 30 July, visiting different wildlife areas in Kenya. The first stop was Lake Nakuru National Park. The FoNNaP newsletter of April 2005 wrote about the crisis facing Lake Nakuru National Park, and recent reports in the Nation has stated that vast numbers of flamingos on the Lake are dying due to the high alkaline content of the lake water. Due to mass deforestation of the Mau forest catchment, the fresh water rivers which feed into Lake Nakuru have dried up completely. The Makalia Falls are completely dry. Bird viewing is uncomfortable as the receding shoreline is littered with dead birds. Moreover, the area of the Park delineated as the “Euphorbia Forest” are mostly massive fallen and dead euphorbia. What can be seen are the introduced wildlife to the area, and these in good numbers given the dimension of the Park.
The next stop was Mount Kenya where the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy has made commendable progress in The Mountain Bongo Repatriation Project. A highly endangered antelope, the Mountain Bongo has been carefully bred in captivity by this effort. From 30 animals, the bongo population is currently 100, which will now be reintroduced into the wilderness of Mount Kenya as a self-sustaining group.
We then visited Meru National Park, which is not one Park, but a group of protected areas; Meru National Park, Bisandi National Reserve, Mwingi National Reserve, and Kora National Park. The ecosystem is vast and pristine. The wildlife occupation of the area includes the blue necked Somali ostrich, lesser kudu, reticulated giraffe, oryx, and strong numbers of cheetah. The visionary efforts of Joy and George Adamson are remembered.
CONCLUSION – Prevention is far better than cure.
GAME COUNT RESULTS
Bush Duiker 1
Grants Gazelle 49
M. Giraffe 55
Thompsons Gazelle 51
Black Rhino 6
Sykes Monkey 10
Vervet Monkey 19
Rock Hyrax 8
Yellow-necked Spurfowl 9
Helmeted Guineafowl 69
Crowned Crane 28
Hartlaub’s Bustard 3
Kori Bustard 2
Serval Cat 1
Buff Bellied Bustard 2
Black-headed Heron 1
Secretary Bird 2
Total species counted – 34
TOTAL – 2,463
Monthly Highlights for March 2006, Isinya Division
The little scattered rains received during the month brought about noticeable improvement in the body condition of animals. Pasture and water has been made available hence the changes to better status.
Animals in General
The main plains game species seem not to have returned to this range and the few that roam the area are only found in small scattered family herds. These include zebra and wildebeest. The eland were disturbed by poachers and were seen to have formed three very small groups of up to five animals and then disappeared from the area. The Coke’s Hartebeest remained few and were not seen with any calves. They might calve at the same time as the wildebeest. The 12 giraffe that frequent this area were seen to have been accompanied by their very healthy young. The starlings and plovers started making their nests and laying eggs. Not much can be said about poaching as this seems to have halted. The wildebeest have started calving, but few of them have so far been recorded with their young. The fear is that since the wildebeest are scattered all over the chances of them affecting the livestock with malignant catarrh is high.
Quarterly Report forApril, May, June 2006, Enkirgirri, Isinya Div.
The monthly reporting system seems to have been ended abruptly and without any due notice. This to me is unfortunate because whatever the cause of stoppage, a record of what is happening in the field is important for all stakeholders if the community is to share wildlife conservation measures with KWS and donor agencies. March 2006 report and a quarterly report covering the period April to June are hereby submitted, and, in future, the reporting system will continue with or without payment.
Substantial rainfall was received throughout the whole range. It was unevenly distributed with parts of Olmirru and Enkigirri receiving lesser rains than Isinya and Ensosuyian.
A swarm of army worm attacked and severely destroyed the green grass hampering it from covering the ground effectively. Mostly affected were areas that had previously experienced careless and accidental burning. However, there is enough grass to last the range till August in reasonable grass and water availability.
The zebra, wildebeest and giraffe are back from adjacent areas. This area is therefore now stocked with plains game. Water and forage is still ample for all.
This was badly effected by the last severe drought. The wildebeest calves have now assumed the blue colour of the adults. Zebra foals are extremely few as most animals aborted during the drought. The gazelles were not spared either. Hence, young offspring are not common. All the plains game, however, have assumed excellent body condition.
Predation/ Crop Destruction
During the rainy months of April-May many farmers reportedly lost quite a big number of sheep and goats. This happened at night when the hyaenas dug their way into the night bomas. KWS Kajiado was of little assistance as the 4 wheel drive vehicles would not make it to the affected areas. The spurfowls dug out and ate maize seeds in the shambas. A few cases of zebra, Grant’s and eland attacked crops. Summarily, destruction was minimal.
A few wildebeest calves were killed by herders. Adult animals were killed and meat sold in Kajiado and Isinya majengo slums. Up to 3 animals only were killed, but this cannot be termed serious.
More observation being made.
MORE ELEPHANTS . . .
On Monday, 31/7/06, at sunrise, an elephant was reported at Selelo Ranch, heading towards Portland Ranch. Later it changed direction, turned south-west and spent the better part of the day at Ostrich Farm, monitored by KWS. When the elephant didn’t make any attempt to move on, the KWS team camped out there. Next morning the elephant had gone, only to be reported again at around 10 a.m. at a school compound in the middle of Machakos Town, well 40 km away! No problem for a young, adventurous elephant bull. But now trouble brewed. Curious children threw stones, many residents came; the crowd swell to more than 500 people. Mr. Mwanza, KWS Warden, Machakos, received reinforcement from KWS Nairobi and from the police to keep the crowd at bay. Of great help was the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. Finally the danger that the elephant may have to be shot was over. It was sedated and transported by lorry to the Mashuru – Selengei area, not far from Amboseli, where other elephants are. By 10 p.m. it was revived – and off he was.
NEXT MEMBERS GATHERING
SUNDAY, 3 Sept., 11 A.M.
KWS GUEST HOUSE
Speaker: Mr. Hewson Kibugi
Forests Coordinator, KWS