Monthly Report: December 2017

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

Activity Hours Flown Kilometres Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


70 (867 for year)
Average 120 kph of low level flight


8,414 km (103,777 km for year)
Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  Field Patrol Days Kilometres Covered
Ground Activities
(Joint KWS / Tsavo Trust)
Protection teams: 61 days
Monitoring teams: 43 days
Protection teams: 8,123 km
Monitoring teams: 6,646 km
  No. Observed
Big "Tuskers"   10 Tuskers - 9 bulls (3 Super Tuskers and 6 emerging Tuskers) and 1 cow
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   30 elephant tusks (241 for year to date - largest 53.5 and 52.5kg)

Elephant Carcasses

Fresh (less than 3 weeks old) Recent (less than 3 months old)
   2 (c of d: 2 natural)  13 (c of d: 13 natural)
Carcasses / hours flown 1 every 4.6 hours of flight
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms Fresh - 1  Recent - Nil
Arrests   3 - by KWS / Tsavo Trust – details CONFIDENTIAL
Snares/traps recovered   145 (by Tembo Teams - 1,008 for year to date )
Written reports to KWS 58 (daily email reports, various communications and 1 monthly report)
General and significant notes
  • Decent rains have finally fallen over most parts of Tsavo East and West, relieving the pressure

  • 5/12/17: Second Super Cub aircraft reg. 5Y NRF deployed to support KWS aerial activities over the Tsavo Conservation Area

  • Aerial and ground support in Tsavo West National Park, Rhino Program, ongoing through partnership with KWS / ZSL. 7 rhino specific recce flights carried out with KWS

Photo shows Tsavo Trust's second Super Cub aircraft reg. 5Y NRF in action over Tsavo on 9th December 2017.

Tsavo Trust Super Cub 5Y NRF flying over elephants in Tsavo East

\Wildlife Conservation Program

'Big Tusker Project' - aerial and Mobile ground teams:

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

  • Total of 10 different individual Tusker's were observed from ground and air coverage. This was a very low number of recordings due to widespread dispersal due to rains.
  • 3 bull Super Tuskers - 4 different sightings.
  • 6 Emerging bull Tuskers - 9 sightings.
  • 1 iconic cow Tuskers - 1 sightings.
  • Total sightings – 14
  • Weather conditions: Tsavo Trust HQ rainfall: Nil. Other parts and Tsavo greened up significantly.

 - Elephant mortality: 15 carcasses located (2 fresh,12 recent and 1 old with ivory intact): All confirmed as natural deaths realted to drought and starvation.

 - Rhino security:  Regular aerial recces in support of KWS over TWNP rhino areas in partnership with ZSL. 7 rhino specific air recces resulted in 2,220km flown over 16.5 hrs.

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

Tusker Code No. Times
Seen / Month
LU1 1 In good health and in Musth
KO1 2 Moved to safer location inside the Park
IL1 2 Moved eastwards with rains. In Musth
BU1 1 Normal location
MU1 1 Normal location. In Musth
EM1 1 Back to original location
EM1 1 Back to original location, not seen for last 6 months!
GO1 4 Normal location. In Musth
TA1 1 Normal location
WA1 1 Normal location. In Musth
F_DI1 1 Normal location
Total 9 bulls, 1 cow: 14 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 below shows the magnificent cow Tusker coded as F_DH1 with her family unit, December 2017.

 Female Tukser elephant with her family unit in Tsavo, December 2017

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 – Murka, Maktau

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 Rombo

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.

Tsavo Trust flight path map Dec 2017December 2017 flight paths over Tsavo:

70 hours flown, 8,414 kilometers covered

Supporting KWS activities:
• Air and ground operations
• Big Tusker monitoring
• Illegal activities
• Endangered species monitoring
• Aerial census work



Field Mobile Units:

All Tsavo Trust's mobile field units work in support of KWS on a daily basis. Tembo 1 and 3 (inclduding Kamungi Scouts) teams are de-snaring focused whilst Tembo 2 and Tembo 4 teams are monitoring and research dedicated. These teams provide further "eyes and ears on the ground".

De-snaring teams:

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

De-snaring 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
(7  Tsavo Trust men + 3 KWS men)


14 70 7kg Lesser Kudu meat Confidential 1 4,617
Tembo 3 Kamungi
(12 Tsavo Trust men + 3 KWS men)
30 Confidential 2 75 Nil Confidential Nil 3,506
Chui team
- - - - - - - -
TOTALS 61 - 16 145 As above As above 1 8,123
Totals 2017 677 44 122 1,008 - - 40 81,166

Monitoring teams:

Table 8: Shows activities carried out by Tembo 2 and Tembo 4 teams – research and monitoring:

Monitoring team   No. Field days Activities   Endangered species records / sightings  Operating locations  Vehicle mileage km

Tembo 2
(3 Tsavo Trust staff + 2 KWS)

  • Tusker monitoring
  • Hirola monitoring
  • Grevy's zebra monitoring
  • Carnivore monitoring
  • Mombasa/Nairobi - Road and SGR kill surveys
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Fixed point photos
  • Tuskers – 10 sightings
  • Hirola – 7 sightings
  • Grevy’s Zebra – 2 sightings
  • Large Carnivores – 7 sightings
  • Road and Rail kills - 0
  • Elephant carcasses - 4
  • Rain guage readings
TENP, Voi River, Satao, Buchuma, Dakota, Ndara, Aruba, Manyani, KMC, Lugards, Koitu, Emusaya, Galana River, Msa Rd., Dida Harea 4,137 
Tembo 4
(2 Tsavo Trust staff + 2 KWS)
  • Tusker monitoring
  • Rhino monitoring
  • Carnivore monitoring
  • Mombasa/Nairobi - Road and SGR kill surveys
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Fixed point photos
  • Tuskers – 3 sightings
  • Rhino monitoring IPZ
  • Large Carnivores – 10 sightings
  • Road and Rail kills - 1
  • Elephant carcasses - Nil
  • Rain guage readings
TWNP, Kamboyo, Mangalete, Kilaguni, Mzima, Shetani, Finch H, Ziwani, Kitani, Tsavo River, Rhino Valley, IPZ, NRS 2,509
 TOTALS  43  As above  As above  As above  6,646
 Total 2017  359  -  -  58,070

Other Tsavo Trust Activities in brief:

Community Conservancy Program: KAMUNGI CONSERVANCY

Partnership between Tsavo Trust and Kamungi Conservancy (bordering northern boundary of TENP - Triangle) continues to thrive in many ways;

  • Employment (35 permanent employees and an average of 15 casual employees monthly, all from this community)
  • Kamungi Water project is fully functional providing water directly to Ngiluni Village
  • Tsavo Trust employs a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) to help coordinate varying activities as well as maintaining a record of all HWC between Mtito Andei and TT HQ
  • HWC - Elephant Bee Fences - currently 5 x 1 acre plots have been fenced using this unique fencing design (by Dr. Lucy King and Save The Elephants)
  • Management Plan - Kamungi Management Plan (5 years - 2018 to 2022) is in its final stages before going to print

Animal Welfare Program: LEOPARD RELEASE PROGRAM:

  • “Dotty” the female leopard (now at least 20 months old and an adult) has now been totally integrated back to the wild. Following her dropping her sat. collar in November17, we have been unable to locate her for long enough to be able to re-fit her collar. Although this has curtailed the impressive and positive data we were collecting to that point, the previous 3 months of analysis (whilst she wore the sat. collar) clearly shows that leopard releases back to the wild can in fact work, given the right circumstances and commitment by those mandated to perform this activity. We are convinced Dotty is still doing well. In line with our partnership and agreement with KWS, a very detailed Post Release Monitoring Report (Aug17 to Nov17) was prepared by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Tsavo Trust that captures all the necessary details of Dotty's release.
  • “Sophie” it is with a heavy heart that the second leopard under rehabilitation at Tsavo Trust, tragically and mysteriously died on 27th December 2017. Efforts to halt her rapid decline were not successful. We cannot be 100% sure, but the cause of her totally unexpected death could possibly be attributed to the venomous bite from a large brown spitting cobra (Naja Ashie) which are numerous in this area.


Photo below taken by Josh Outram (Tsavo Trust) shows a magnificent young female leopard in the Tsavo Triangle, TENP, close to Tsavo Trust HQ on 21st December 2017.

Female leopard in the Tsavo Triangle, photo by Josh Outram, Tsavo Trust

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