Monthly Report: April 2017

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Aerial and Ground Operations ("Big Tusker Project") Summary:

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


Average 76 mph of low level flight


Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  No. Observed
Big "Tuskers"   15 Tuskers - 10 bulls (3 Super Tuskers and 7 emerging Tuskers) and 5 cows
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   9 elephant tusks (26 for year to date - largest 53.5 and 52.5kg)

Elephant Carcasses

Fresh (less than 3 weeks old) Recent (less than 3 months old)
   3 (c of d: 1 poached, 2 unconfirmed)  Nil
Carcasses / hours flown 1 every 26 hours of flight
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms Fresh - 2  Recent - 6
Arrests   15 - by KWS / TT – (2 ivory dealeres, 1 bush meat, 12 livestock - 37 for year to date)
Snares/traps recovered   97 (by Tembo Teams - 325 for year to date )
Response/support to KWS - armed incidents  Nil ( 5 for year to date)
Other Illegal actvities 113 cattle bomas 34,500 plus cows, 5,500 shoats, 140+ people seen, 200 camels)
Written reports to KWS 39 (daily emails, various reports, various communications and 1 monthly report)
General and significant notes
  • Informer networks are bearing fruit - 4th and 11th Ap17 total of 7 elephant tusks (58kg) recovered jointly KWS / TT resulting from tip offs. This is a major activity breakthrough

  • 17/4/17 – Tusker coded as ND1 has reappeared after 39 months. Last seen in TWNP on 18/1/14 and found by BLF scouts on slopes of Kilimanjaro

  • 2 newly identified emerging Tuskers added to BTP data base, HA1 and DR1

  • Livestock incursions into the Tsavo Parks are incredibly high and on the increase

  • Aerial and ground support pertaining to rhino security ongoing through partnership with KWS / ZSL rhino program. 9 rhino specific recce flights carried out with KWS

Photo below shows the joint KWS / Tsavo Trust Tembo 1 team based on the southern boundary of TENP, here on 11th April 2017 with an arrested ivory dealer caught with 5 elephant tusks. This was one of two dealer arrests made in April where a total of 7 Elephant tusks were recovered weighing 58kg  

 Tembo Team with an arrested ivory dealer caught with 5 elephant tusks

Big Tusker Project - aerial and ground teams:

The Tsavo Trust’s Big Tusker Project (BTP) recorded the following details in the BTP database:

  • Total of 15 different individual Tusker’s were observed from ground and air coverage.
  • Tusker coded as ND1, who has not been located in TWNP for the last 39 months (and was presumed dead) has been found on the slopes of Kilimanjaro (near Satao Elerai Camp) on 17/4/17 by Big Life Foundation scout. BLF immediately sent photos of ND1 and confirmed to be him. He was last seen in TWNP on 18/1/2014! 
  • 2 new emerging Tuskers identified and coded as HA1 (21/4/17) and DR1 (15/4/17) in TENP.
  • 3 bull Super Tuskers – 11 different sightings.
  • 7 emerging Tuskers – 10 sightings.
  • 5 iconic cow Tuskers – 14 sightings.
  • Total sightings – 35
  • Weather conditions: Southern parts of TENP and much of TWNP some good rains.

 - Elephant mortality: Number of carcasses found significantly down.

 - Rhino security:  9 rhino specific aerial recces took place with KWS / TT aircraft in TWNP and TENP. TT - Tembo 3 team continued in support to KWS in ground operations in the TW IPZ. Continued strong and valuable 3 way partnership between KWS / ZSL and TT continues with specific focus on rhino protection in TWNP.

Table 1: Shows “Tusker” code, number of times observed during month and brief remarks. 

Tusker Code No. Times
Seen / Month
LU1 9 In good health but requents an unsafe area!
WS1 1 In worrying and unsafe location
ND1 1 Not seen in 39 months. Great newshe is still aloive
MU1 2 Moved to worrying boundary location following rain there
EM1 1 Moves big distances, but generally in unsafe and remote areas
MZ1 1 Same original location
DR1 2 New emerging bull seen before but now confrmed as a new bull to database
HA1 1 New emerging bull seen before but now confirmed as a new bull to database
KI1 1 Has moved far with recent rains
MA1 2 Back to normal area
F_VPL 3 Back to normal location. Looking very old and thin, often alone!
F_MU1 6 Back to normal area. Looking very old and thin.
F_DI1 2 Moves biig distances with recent rain, had not been located for 5 months.
F-KA1 2 Looking very, very old and thin. Seen alone!
F_XT1 1 Back to normal location
Total 10 bulls, 5, cows: 35 different sighings  
Close working relationship between KWS and Tsavo Trust (aerial and ground units combined) is without doubt adding to elephant security and safety of the big Tuskers and other elephants within the TCA through meaningful collaboration alongside KWS Security and Research and Monitoring Departments.

 Photo shows newly identified emerging Tusker coded as HA1 on 21st April 2017, walking away in a desolate part of TENP.

Newly identified emerging tusker coded HA1 -  copyright Tsavo Trust

Photo shows newly identified emerging Tusker coded HA1 on 21st April 2017. Given just a few more years of life, this bull will certainly become a Super Tusker. Tsavo is blessed with a strong gene pool of such magnificent elephants.

Emerging tusker HA1 -  copyright Tsavo Trust

Very exciting news – Tusker coded as ND1 reappears after 39 months!
This photo below (courtesy of Big Life Foundation scouts) was taken on 17th April 2017 near Satao Elerai camp, Amboseli, on the northern lower slopes of Kilimanjaro and Tsavo Trust has confirmed him to be the missing bull ND1.
He was last seen in TWNP on 18/1/14, 39 months ago and was presumed dead. © Photo Copyright Big Life Foundation

This photo below (courtesy of Big Life Foundation scouts) was taken on 17th April 2017 near Satao Elerai camp, Amboseli, on the northern lower slopes of Kilimanjaro and Tsavo Trust has confirmed him to be the missing bull ND1. © Photo Copyright Big Life Foundation

Areas Covered: Table 2: Shows the main areas covered within the TCA for this month:

Tsavo East

Tsavo West

Ranches and Dispersal Areas

Northern Area – Yatta Plateau, Durusikale, Garasamuke, Emusaya, Golf Charlie, Koitu, Sobo, Sangayaya, Dabaduke, Mufupa ya Ndovu, Ithumba, Tiva River, Roka, Ithumba

Southern Area – Voi, Ndololo, Kanderi, Wagalla, Ndara Plains, Buchuma, Maungu, Murondo, Dakota, Voi River, Dika Plains, Satao, power lines, Aruba, Mukuaju, Dika, Konu Moja, Dida Harea, Balguda, Sala, Lali, Sobo, TENP boundary, Koitu, Galana River

Central Area – TE R/S, IPZ, Manyani east, Punda Milia, Hatulo Bisani, Lugards, Mbololo lugga, Balguda, Irima, Mudanda, Maka Hill, Man-eaters, Triangle, Mtito Lugga, Zero Delta, Voi north & east, Galana River, Tsavo River and Yatta Central, SGR

Northern Sector – IPZ, Mangalete, Kamboyo, Kisimeka, Chyulu south, Mtito lugga, Mungai Hill, Finch Hattons, Mzima Springs, Shetani volcano, Severin, Kilaguni, Ndawe, Tsavo River

Southern Sector – Lake Jipe, Toloa, Kanjaro, TZ border

Central Sector – IPZ, Rhino Valley, NRS, Tsavo River, Kinyek, Maji ya Chumvi (north & south), Ziwani, Lesoito, Kyulu, Manda, Kishushe, Murka, Mombasa Highway, Man Easters, Kenani, Kanga, Manyani north and west, SGR line

TENP border -Ngiluni/Kamunyu, Kulalu, Derea, Murondo, Magram/Dakota Ranch, Ngutuni, Galana Ranch

TWNP border – Ziwani, Rombo and Lualenyi

Chyulu Hills NP - Nil

Taita Ranches – Nil

  • The locations mentioned above is only an indicator of flight paths taken, many other areas in between are also covered and in so doing providing “eyes in the skies” over Tsavo and directional guidance to ground units.
  • All flight paths are logged and recorded with all relevant real time observations relayed to KWS on a daily basis for their records as well as necessary rapid reaction.

 Map below shows flight paths for April 2017 where 78 hours were flown in support to KWS for anti-poaching, wildlife monitoring and aerial census operations covering 5,939 miles over the Tsavo’s.

Tsavo Trust flight paths April 2017

Field Mobile Units:

All Tsavo Trust mobile field units work with and in support of KWS on a daily basis. Tembo 1 and 3 teams are anti-poaching focused Tembo 2 team is monitoring and research dedicated.

Anti-poaching teams:

Table 7: Shows outcomes from anti-poaching activities from Temboa 1 and 3 teams:

Anti-poaching teams No. Field days No. arrests No. Ivory recvd. No. Snares recvd. Bushmeat recvd. Poachers equip. recvd. No. Poacher camps Vehicle mileage Km
Tembo 1 29 2 7 65 80kg plus 2 bicycles, 2 knives 2 3,089
Tembo 3 Kamungi 29 1 2 32 10 dikdiks - - 3,521
Others Chui team - - - - - - - -
TOTALS 58 3 9 97 As above As above 7 6,610
Totals 2017 217 10 22 325 - - 23 23,413


Injured bull elephant getting treatment - copyright Tsavo TrustPhoto shows an injured bull elephant, found by KWS / TT Tembo 1 team on 2nd April 2017 in TENP.

The KWS / DSWT vet unit was called to treat the elephant.









Monitoring teams:

Table 8: Shows activities carried out by Tembo 2 team:

Monitoring team   No. Field days Activities   Endangered species records / sightings  Operating locations  Vehicle mileage km
 Tembo 2  17
  • Tusker monitoring
  • Endangered species – database records
  • Road and SGR kill surveys
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Fixed point photos
  • Predator monitoring

Tuskers – 8 sightings
Hirola – 9 sightings
Grevy’s Zebra – 2 sightings
Predators – 12 sightings of varying types and numbers

TENP, Voi River, Satao, Buchuma, Ndara, Aruba, Manyani, KMC, Lugards, Galana River, Msa Rd., Dida Harea 3,433 
 TOTALS  17  As above  As above  As above  2,501
 Total 2017  67  -  -  10,989

Other Tsavo Trust Activities in brief:

Community Program: KAMUNGI CONSERVANCY: 
Ongoing partnership and stewardship development between Tsavo Trust and Kamungi Conservancy (bordering northern boundary of TENP – Triangle) have continued in varying ways:

  • Procurement of solar equipment and pump has been done and now awaiting installation.
  • Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) – Elephant & Bees Project is working well and some hives are already over flowing with honey. This bodes well for the future of this project.
  • HWC – Tsavo Trust employs a Community Liaison Officer who continues to maintain a database of HWC occurrences that have taken place along the north boundary of TENP – Triangle. Much of this falls within Kamungi Conservancy. In 2016 HWC averaged 20.4 incidents per month.

Photo below shows clearly how urgent the need is for the people of Kamungi Conservancy to enjoy clean water. Here water is being collected from a dirty water hole used by livestock and wildlife. The new water project put in place by Tsavo Trust will go along way to give this community clean and healthy drinking water, something they have never enjoyed before.

Water is being collected from a dirty water hole used by livestock and wildlife - copyright Tsavo Trust

Leopard Cub Release:

Dotty the female leopard is now 1 year old and continues her slow rehabilitation process into the wild within TENP. She continues to grow very fast and is doing well in making her own kills and learning about her new environment.

Dotty on walk April 2017 photo copyright Tsavo TrustPhoto shows “Dotty” out on her daily walks in TENP with one of her dedicated keepers, Kitheka.

Dotty has now been roaming her area of release for 5 months and so far coping very well.










Unusual Photo of the Month:

Photo below shows the Tsavo Trust’s Tembo 2 research and monitoring team in the vehicle observing one of Tsavo’s iconic cow Tuskers coded as F_VPL on 6th April 2017. Tembo 2 team works daily with KWS within TENP with a specific emphasis on Tusker monitoring but also gathering field data on endangered species (Grevy’s zebra and Hirola) and predator monitoring including wild dogs.

Iconic cow tusker F_VPL  - copyright Richard Moller  

With Sincere thanks and appreciation to:

Kenya Wildlife Service, Save The Elephants/Wildlife Conservation Network Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF), US Fish & Wildlife Service, The Oak Foundation, Stuart Herd, Nick Southgate, James Robertson, International Foundation for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Tusk Trust UK & USA, The Woodtiger Fund, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Ndovu Trust (UK), US State Dept., Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, International Elephant Foundation (IEF), Wines of the World Ltd, Africa Spirits Ltd, Mike Kirkland/Torben Rune, Satao Camp (Tsavo East) & Southern Cross Safaris (Msa), Tropical Ice Ltd, Salama Fikira, Origins Safaris, The Art of BAS & Oak Furniture Ltd (UK), Geri Bauer, Kathy Snowden, Simon Herd, Saving the Survivors, Karen Laurence-Rowe, Anadarko Kenya Co., Askari Project – Australia, Chris Acreman, Paul & James Wilson, Enable Green Energy, Eaton Electric, Michael Cheffings, Pembroke House School and numerous other individual supporters.

Report compiled by Richard Moller – Chief Executive Officer, Tsavo Trust

All photographs ©Richard Moller / Tsavo Trust 2017

© Richard Moller and Tsavo Trust, 2012 to 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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