Monthly Report: December 2016

Download PDF Download 12-2016-public_tsavo_trust_monthly_report.pdf

the tsavo trust logo

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

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


60 (691 hrs for year to date)
Average 75 mph of low level flight


4,475 (52,090 miles for year to date)
Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  No. Observed
Large "Tuskers"   17 Tuskers - 14 bulls (6 Super Tuskers and 8 emerging Tuskers) and 3 cows
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   32 tusks (97 for year 2016)

Elephant Carcasses

Fresh Recent
   14 (12 natural, 2 poached,)  5 (4 natural, 1 poached)
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms  Nil  Nil
Carcasses/hours flown   1 every 3 hours of flight
Arrests   5 - by KWS and TT support – (all poachers)
Snares/traps recovered   42 (by Tembo Teams – 1,043 for the year 2016)
Response/support to KWS - armed incidents   1 (3 for year 2016)
Other Illegal actvities   44 cattle bomas (25,000 plus cows, 8,000 shoats and 263+ people seen)
General important/relevant notes
  • Several fresh elephant carcasses (16 natural death) found in southern areas
    of TENP. It is unclear as to the cause of death but possibly some reaction
    from extreme drought to heavy rains and lush vegetation?

  • 13/12/16 – Aerial follow up to armed gang reported around Kanga, TWNP

  • 15/12/16 - Tembo 1 team permanently deployed to southeast TENP
    boundary. 6 elephant tusks recvd. On first day of deployment. Total of 10
    elephant tusks recvd. Today by KWS/TT

  • Aerial support pertaining to rhino security in TW & TE & continued
    partnership with KWS & ZSL re rhino programs in TCA

  • Ongoing joint KWS/TT predator & endangered species monitoring, TENP

Photo below shows the joint KWS/TT mobile TEMBO 1 Team, having recovered 6 elephant tusks on their very first day of operations on 15th December 2016 in Tsavo East Nat. Park. These elephant carcasses were found during an aerial reconnaissance flight and then the TEMBO 1 team was deployed to verify cause of death and recovery the ivory before they fall into the “wrong hands”. All were natural deaths.

Mobile TEMBO 1 Team, having recovered 6 elephant tusks on their very first day of operations

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 17 different individual Tusker’s were observed from ground and air coverage
  • 6 bull Super Tuskers – 24 different sightings
  • 8 emerging Tuskers – 17 sightings
  • 3 iconic cow Tuskers – 4 sightings
  • Total sightings – 45
  • Weather conditions: Rains were sporadic with some parts receiving no rain at all. In general rains have been below average and have stopped early, which does not bode well for the next 3 months!
  • Elephant mortality: Again several elephant carcasses (14) have been found in southern areas of TENP. This has been reported to KWS & Vet Unit. It is unclear as to the cause but possibly some reaction from extreme drought to heavy rains and lush vegetation? It is also worrying that 3 poached elephant (poisoned arrows) were also located in the same areas and a strong indicator that a gang is operating here!

 - Rhino security: 2 black rhino poached (gunshot) in NRS TWNP. This is the first poaching in 2 years. Efforts by all stakeholders in this area have been increased. 6 rhino specific aerial recces.

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

Tusker Code No. Times
Seen / Month
LU1 3 Crosses SGR regularly. Frequents an unsafe area!
SA2 6 Normal location
KA1 3 Moved with recent rains 
DI1 2 Normal area and a real creature of habit. Looking very old and frail
WS1 6 Back to normal location
IL1 4 Same location
SA80 8 Back to normal area
AR1 1 Back to normal area
MA1 1 Back to normal area
KI1 1 Back ro normal area
KO1 1 Moves long distances to water. Not in safe area!
DU1 1 Not been seen for 8 months!
KM2 3 Normal location
BU1 1 Has moved with the rains. Notin safe area!
F_KA1 1 Moving big distances
F_XT 2 Moving big distances
F_ND1 1 Not been seen for 6 months
Total 14 bulls, 3, cows: 45 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.

Evening landing back at Tsavo Trust HQ

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 – Huri, Kone, Ya Kalicha, Ndiandaza, Masobo, Jimetunda, Dabaduke, Yatta Plateau, Durusikale, Garasamuke, Emusaya, Golf Charlie, Koitu, Sobo, Sangayaya, Dabaduke,  Mufupa ya Ndovu, Ithumba, Tiva River, 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 – Kanjaro, Toloa

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, Kilalinda, Kulalu, Derea, Murondo, Magram/Dakota Ranch, Ngutuni, Galana Ranch boundary

TWNP border – Ziwani, Rombo and Lualenyi

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 December 2016 where 60 hours were flown in support to KWS for anti-poaching and wildlife monitoring across 4,475 miles over the Tsavo’s

Tsavo Trust flight paths Dec 2016

Field Mobile Units:

All mobile field units work with and in support of KWS on a daily basis. Some are security focused (Tembo 1 & 3) and some are monitoring and research concentrated (Tembo 2).
• 15/12/16 – Tembo 1 team deployed to TENP as mobile anti-poaching support unit to KWS
based from Dakota Base. Area of operations between Buchuma and Sala (south east TENP
Tembo 2 Team:
• Big Tusker monitoring – results shown in table above
• Predator and endangered species monitoring. Grevy’s zebra and Hirola in particular
• Camera trap monitoring and analysis
• Fixed point photography at specific locations

Photo shows 10 dikdiks having been poached on Dakota Ranch by poachers using the lamping method at night. 1 poacher arrested and his bicycle and other equipment confiscated by KWS/TT Tembo 1 team.

10 dikdiks having been poached on Dakota Ranch by poachers using the lamping method at night

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

Field mobile teams No. arrests No. Ivory recvd. No. Snares recvd. Bushmeat recvd. Poachers equip. recvd. No. Poacher camps Vehicle mileage Km
Tembo 1 1 6 14 16 dikdik 1 bicycle, 1 panga, cooking equip. 2 2,922
Tembo 2 - 16 - - - - 2,655
Tembo 3 (Kamungi) 4 2 28 - 2 axes, 1 spade, 1 jembe, 2 pangas 1 1,722
Others Chui team - - - - - 3 -
TOTALS 5 26 44 As above As above 5 7,349

Unusual Photo of the Month:

This photo was taken in TENP on 19th December 2016. Note the up growing left tusk of this cow elephant whilst the right tusk has grown normally.

up growing left tusk elephant cow


With thanks and appreciation to:

Kenya Wildlife Service, Save The Elephants/Wildlife Conservation Network Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF), Stuart Herd, Nick Southgate, James Robertson, US Fish & Wildlife Service, International Foundation for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Tusk Trust UK & USA, The Woodtiger Fund, The Oak Foundation, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Ndovu Trust (UK), US State Dept., Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, 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, 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 2016

blog comments powered by Disqus