Monthly Report: August 2017

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

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


67 (597 for year)
Average 72 mph of low level flight


4,972 (44,593 for year)
Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  No. Observed
Big "Tuskers"   9 Tuskers - 6 bulls (3 Super Tuskers and 3 emerging Tuskers) and 3 cows
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   14 elephant tusks (65 for year to date - largest 53.5 and 52.5kg)

Elephant Carcasses

Fresh (less than 3 weeks old) Recent (less than 3 months old)
   12 (c of d: 3 poached, 8 natural, 1 unknown)  (c of d: 1 natural, 1 unknown)
Carcasses / hours flown 1 every 4.8 hours of flight
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms Fresh - 3  Recent - Nil
Arrests   8 - by KWS / TT – (2 ivory poachers, 3 bushmeat poachers, 2 livestock, 1 trespass - 86 for year to date)
Snares/traps recovered   38 (by Tembo Teams - 663 for year to date )
Response/support to KWS - armed incidents  1 ( 6 for year to date)
Other Illegal actvities 141 cattle bomas (37,500 plus cows, 11,000 shoats, 400 camels, 65 people)
Written reports to KWS 44 (daily emails, various reports, various communications and 1 monthly report)
General and significant notes
  • 7/8/17 – Cow Super Tusker VOI (F_VPL) died naturally of old age, ivory recvd.

  • 10/8/17 – New Tembo 4 monitoring team deployed to TWNP to work alongside KWS

  • Livestock incursions into the Tsavo Parks are incredibly high but livestock pushes have commenced in later part of month

  • Elephant mortality from drought - Extremely dry conditions continue in Tsavo with numbers of old and young elephants succumbing to drought

  • Aerial and ground support for rhino security ongoing through partnership with KWS / ZSL rhino program. 3 rhino specific recce flights carried out with KWS

Tembo 4 team was deployed to TWNP on 10th August 2017 to assist the KWS - TW Research and Monitoring Department to provide a mobile platform to carry out activities with specific focus of Tuskers and rhino within the TW IPZ. The latter will enhance current activities by KWS and ZSL.

tsavo trust tembo 4 team

Big Tusker Project - aerial and ground teams:

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

  • Total of 9 different individual Tusker’s were observed from ground and air coverage.
  • 3 bull Super Tuskers – 12 different sightings.
  • 3 Emerging bull Tuskers – 10 sightings.
  • 3 iconic cow Tuskers – 8 sightings.
  • Total sightings – 30
  • Weather conditions: Worryingly dry in most parts especially TENP and strong winds.

 - Elephant mortality: 14 carcasses located (12 fresh, 2 recent): Number of carcasses found was far higher than normal. This is attributed the harsh drought Tsavo is facing. 3 confirmed as poached elephant, 9 natural and 2 unknown deaths.

Iconic Cow Tusker called VOI (code F_VPL) has died on 1st August 2017 and her carcass found on 7th August 2017 in TENP, both tusks recovered. She sadly died naturally of old age but on the positive side, this is a very rare occurrence in today’s elephant world to live to a ripe old age and died as a result.¬ Iconic Cow Tusker called VOI (code F_VPL) has died on 1st August 2017 and her carcass found on 7th August 2017 in TENP, both tusks recovered. She sadly died naturally of old age but on the positive side, this is a very rare occurrence in today’s elephant world to live to a ripe old age and died as a result.

 - Rhino security:  3 rhino specific aerial recces took place with KWS / TT aircraft in TWNP and TENP. This was low compared to normal as much focus was on livestock drives this month. Tsavo Trust’s - Tembo 3 and 4 teams continued in support to KWS in the TW IPZ, where a valuable 3-way partnership; KWS / ZSL & 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 7 In good health but requents an unsafe area!
IL1 2 In worrying and unsafe location!
KO1 3 In a worrying and unsafe remote location!
MA1 3 Normal location
KI1 3 Normal location
BU1 4 Back to normal area after walk about and not seen for previous 6 months
F_VPL Died 1st August 2017 of old age
F_MU1 5 Normal area. Looking very old and thin. Always seen with her s/adult calf
F_XT 2 Back to normal location and in good health
F_KA1 1 Not in normal area, looking very thin indeed!
Total 6 bulls, 3 cows: 30 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 the fresh carcass of iconic Cow Tusker called VOI (code F_VPL) taken on 7th August 2017 in TENP. She sadly died naturally of old age. On the positive side, this is a very rare occurrence in today’s elephant world to live to a ripe old age and die naturally of old age. Could the Big Tusker Project have played a part in this through its daily activities?

fresh carcass iconic cow tusker vpl 

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, Tiva River, Ndiandaza, Ya Kalicha, Roka

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, Salaita, Toloa, Moare, Kanjaro, Kamshari, 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, KMC, Ngutuni, Kilifi & Galana Ranch

TWNP border – Ziwani and Lualenyi

Chyulu Hills NP - Nil

Taita Ranches – Rukinga, Taita

  • 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.

flight paths august 2017August 2017 flight paths over Tsavo:August 2017 flight paths over Tsavo: 67 hours flown, 4,972 miles covered

Supporting KWS activities:
• Anti-poaching
• Big Tusker monitoring
• Illegal livestock
• Wildlife monitoring
• Aerial census

Field Mobile Units:

All Tsavo Trust mobile field units work alongside in support of KWS on a daily basis. Tembo 1 and 3 teams are anti-poaching focused whilst 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 30 2 3 38 14kg Lesser Kudu 4 p/arrows, 1 bow, 1 panga, 2 knives, 1 axe, 1 lamping horn, 2 lamping spot lights, cooking equip. 3 3,059
Tembo 3 Kamungi 31 6 5 - 3 dikdiks 21 dikdiks (31kg), 1 impala (16kg) Nil 2,760
Chui team
- - - - - - - -
TOTALS 61 8 8 38 As above As above 3 11,650
Totals 2017 444 37 50 663 - - 34 54,168


suspected ivory poacherSuspected notorious elephant poacher – Hussein Farah arrested during a night ambush on 19th August 2017 by joint KWS/Tsavo Trust Tembo 1 team in Dakota area.

poison arrows and bow

Information indicates he is suspected to have poached elephants in this area for more than 30 years.

He was in possession of 1 elephant tusk (13kg), 4 poisoned arrows, 1 bow (see photo), 1 axe and 1 knife. 



Photo below shows recovered bushmeat (21 dikdiks – 31kg & 1 impala – 16kg) by the joint KWS/Tsavo Trust Tembo 3 team operating in TWNP. 2 poachers arrested in this night ambush on 15th August 2017.

Recovered bushmeat - 21Dikdiks and 1 Impala

Monitoring teams:

The newly established Tembo 4 monitoring team was deployed for action in TWNP on 10th August 2017. This unit will support KWS research and monitoring with a special focus towards monitoring the Tuskers of TWNP and to support KWS and ZSL in the rhino project in TWNP.

Table 8: Shows activities carried out by Tembo 2 team – research and monitoring:

Monitoring team   No. Field days Activities   Endangered species records / sightings  Operating locations  Vehicle mileage km
 Tembo 2  26
  • Tusker monitoring
  • Endangered species – database records
  • Carnivore monitoring
  • Mombasa/Nairobi - Road and SGR kill surveys
  • Camera trap surveys Fixed point photos
  • Fixed point photos
  • Tuskers – 15 sightings
  • Hirola – 1 sightings
  • Grevy’s Zebra – 2 sightings
  • Large Carnivores – 22 sightings
  • Road and Rail kills - 2
TENP, Voi River, Satao, Buchuma, Dakota, Ndara, Aruba, Manyani, KMC, Lugards, Koitu, Emusaya, Galana River, Msa Rd., Dida Harea 4,884 
Tembo 4 18
  • Tusker monitoring
  • IPZ rhino monitoring
  • Carnivore monitoring
  • Tuskers – 11 sightings
  • Rhino – various
  • Large Carnivores – 4 sightings
TWNP, Kamboyo, Mangalete, Kilaguni, Mzima, Shetani, Finch H, Kitani, Tsavo River, Rhino Valley, NRS 2,654
 TOTALS  44  As above  As above  As above  7,538
 Total 2017  174  -  -  29,723

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) continues in varying ways:

  • Kamungi Water Project - bore hole, solar pump equipment, a 2.5-kilometer delivery pipe line to Ngiluni village and now a 100,000 litre water tank has been built. Ngiluni villagers finally have clean water. Opening of this community water project will be in September.
  • Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) – Funding for a 5th elephant / bee fence has been sought under the Elephant & Bees Project (pioneered by Lucy King and Save The Elephants). This new fence will be set up in October.
  • Several meetings have taken place within Kamungi Conservancy this month via the Tsavo Trust’s Community Liaison Officer (CLO)

Animal Welfare Program: LEOPARD RELEASE PROGRAM:

  • Dotty the female leopard is now 16 months old and continues to thrive as a wild leopard in TENP’ Triangle. She is now fitted with a satellite collar and in August spent most of the time out from the safety of her boma. Between 17th and 27th August Dotty travelled 73 kilometers around her boma making at least 1 known kill for herself and travelling to know water sources on several occasions. When she returned to her home location, she was in full spirits and had a fully belly. This all bodes well for her future. Fingers crossed. She is essentially a wild leopard now.
  • “Sophie”, the second leopard under rehabilitation under Tsavo Trust care is progressing well. Plans are in place for a final release boma to be set up where she will be moved for her remaining 10 months before a “hard release” to the wild. She is pretty wild already! lengthy process of rehabilitation has started well..

Close-up of Dotty's eyesClose up photo of Dotty’s eyes on 29th August after she had been out on her own for 10 days with her new sat. collar. She had travelled a distance of 73 kilometers around her release site in this time frame. She returned in top shape and “full of dikdik”. 





Photo below shows the little rare albino elephant calf reported on in June 2017 Report in TENP. Here running to catch up to his mother on 17th August 2017 in TENP. His pink ears really do stick out (photo courtesy of Kyalo Kimaile of Tembo 2 team). Thankfully, even with this drought gripping Tsavo, he remains in good shape.

Rare albino elephant calf - Tsavo

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, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Stuart Herd, Sir Colin Southgate, Nick Southgate, Alex Graham, Dr. David K.P. Li, Nick Powell, James Robertson, International Foundation for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Tusk Trust (UK) and Tusk USA, The Woodtiger Fund, Ndovu Trust (UK), US Aid, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, International Elephant Foundation (IEF), Disney/Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Mike Kirkland/Torben Rune, Satao Camp (Tsavo East) and Southern Cross Safaris (Msa), Tropical Ice Ltd, Askari Project – Australia, Salama Fikira, Origins Safaris, JW Seagon Insurance, The Art of BAS & Oak Furnitureland, Geri Bauer, Karen Laurence-Rowe, OnSafari Kenya-Anthony Cheffings, Kathy Snowden, Simon Herd, Saving the Survivors, Anadarko Kenya Co., Chris Acreman, Paul and James Wilson, Dutch Flower Foundation, Alex Hunter – InsidersAfrica, 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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