Tembo 2 team is not directly involved at the sharp end of anti-poaching, but more alongside KWS Research and Monitoring Departments within the TCA, mainly in Tsavo East National Park (TENP). The main emphasis here is to monitor the large Tuskers as often as possible in-situ on the ground and frequently in tandem with aerial activities whereby ground deployments can be guided. In so doing a layer of “eyes and ears” at ground level is achieved to compliment the “eyes in the skies” under the aerial unit.
A combined ground and air project has proved to produce far better monitoring results and in turn provides greater security for the big Tuskers. For example in September 2014 there were only 14 different observations made of Tuskers (12 known individuals) yet in September 2015 there were 62 different observations made consisting of 10 iconic bulls, 4 emerging bulls and 3 iconic cow Tuskers. Within the TCA only 10 remaining big iconic Super Tuskers exist (those with ivory to the ground and over 45kg each tusk), a further 16 emerging bull Tuskers and 7 iconic cow Tuskers known and recorded to date.
Tembo 2 team consists of 3 Tsavo Trust men, led by 1 Field Officer (holds a degree in wildlife management), 1 driver and 1 Field Assistant (all of whom received elephant identification training by Save The Elephants in Northern Kenya in September 2014). In addition at least 2 KWS field research staff makes up the complete Tembo 2 team, who conduct field-monitoring patrols on a daily basis in TENP.
Tembo 2 is mobile, self sufficient and able to move across TENP with a 4 x 4 vehicle fabricated and modified for rugged off road conditions. Other equipment includes tentage, camp beds, bedrolls, cooking utensils, camera, binoculars; GPS, mobile phone, radios, staff salary costs and food ration supplies (see budget breakdown below).
The Tembo 2 team currently provides the only platform available in TENP Research Department for meaningful field data collection to KWS (presently there is no vehicle or resources at KWS’s disposal) and this reflects the importance of the Tembo teams to Park Management. As well as big Tusker monitoring, this on-going project also contributes valuable data on endangered and threatened species including the Hirola or Hunters antelope (Beatragus hunter, Endangered), Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi, Endangered); African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus, Endangered), Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus, Vulnerable), Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious, Vulnerable) and Lion (Panthera leo, Vulnerable) – thereby adding value to any investment in this project as well as an excellent example of where Government/Private conservation partnerships exist.
Through the consistent findings of the aerial unit combined with the Tembo 2 team, the Tsavo Trust maintains a database on relevant information gathered pertaining to the big Tuskers. This information has been collected since the Tsavo Trust BTP began in January 2013.