Monthly Report: March 2017

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

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


Average 73 mph of low level flight


Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  No. Observed
Big "Tuskers"   9 Tuskers - 7 bulls (3 Super Tuskers and 4 emerging Tuskers) and 2 cows
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   4 elephant tusks (17 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: 1 hit by train, 1 hit by truck)  1 (c of d: 1 unconfirmed)
Carcasses / hours flown 1 every 19 hours of flight
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms Fresh - 2  Recent - Nil
Arrests   10 - by KWS / TT – (2 elephant poachers, 2 bush meat, 5 livestock - 22 for year to date)
Snares/traps recovered   108 (by Tembo Teams - 228 for year to date )
Response/support to KWS - armed incidents  3 (TENP poaching gang, TW gun shots, TE gun shotes - 5 for year to date)
Other Illegal actvities 107 cattle bomas 40,000 plus cows, 26,000 shoats and 487+ people seen, 500 camels, 100 donkeys, 14 dogs)
Written reports to KWS 43 (daily emails, various reports, various communications and 1 monthly report)
General and significant notes
  • 4th, 19th and 23rd March17 – TT aircraft flew as back-up support to KWS armed situations

  • Number of elephant carcasses found – significantly down

  • 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. 8 rhino specific recce flights carried out with KWS

  • 14th and 23rd March – TT rescued 2 orphaned baby elephants and delivered to DSWT

Tsavo Trust does not only focus on elephant conservation but also works closely in support of KWS concerning black rhino conservation through a partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Photo below shows 2 TWNP rhino in prime condition on 20th March 2017.     2 Tsavo West National Park rhino in prime condition - photo copyright Tsavo Trust

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 9 different individual Tusker’s were observed from ground and air coverage. Observations of Tuskers this month was unusually very low despite aerial and ground consistent coverage.
• New emerging Tusker coded as RO1 identified on 18th March 2017
• 3 bull Super Tuskers – 7 different sightings
• 4 emerging Tuskers – 5 sightings
• 2 iconic cow Tuskers – 7 sightings
Total sightings – 19
Weather conditions: Hot and desperately dry.

 - Elephant mortality: Carcasses found were significantly down which is a big positive, and of the 3 found none were poached. However worryingly armed elephant poaching gangs have been encountered but have been successfully dealt with.

 - Rhino security:  8 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 3 Crosses SGR regularly. Frequents an unsafe area!
WS1 3 Back to normal location
IL1 1 Normal location, but a worrying location at times
MU1 1 Back to a worrying boundary location following rain there
KM2 2 Back to normal area
MZ1 1 Same original location. Not seen in 8 months!
RO1 1 New emerging bull not seen before, Broken off right tusk
F_VPL 3 Back to normal location. Looking very old and thin
F_MU1 4 Back to normal area. looking very old and thin
Total 7 bulls, 2, cows: 19 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 RO1 on 18th March 2017. Although his right tusk is broken off, his left impressive tusk shows clearly that he carries the Tusker gene pool and given the chance to survive longer, in time he will join the Super Tusker elite.

Newly identified emerging tusker - photo copyright Richard Moller

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 March 2017 where 58 hours were flown in support to KWS for anti- poaching, wildlife monitoring and aerial census operations covering 4,242 miles over the Tsavo’s.

Tsavo Trust flight paths March 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 21 Nil Nil 83 101kg eland, and dikdiks 2 bicycles, cooking equip 2 2,605
Tembo 3 Kamungi 31 Nil 4 25 13 dikdiks - - 3,169
Others Chui team - - - - - - - -
TOTALS 52 Nil 4 108 As above As above 2 5,774
Totals 2017 159 7 13 228 - - 16 16,803


Tembo 1 team having rescued an orphaned elephant calf in Tsavo East National Park - photo copyright Tsavo TrustPhoto shows the Tembo 1 team having rescued an orphaned baby elephant in TENP on 23rd March 2017. This calf was taken to DSWT in Voi and later flown to Nairobi.

Tsavo was desperately dry in March and this was 1 of 2 elephant calves rescued by KWS / TT in March.








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  16
  • Tusker monitoring
  • Endangered species – database records
  • Road and SGR kill surveys
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Fixed point photos
  • Predator monitoring

Tuskers – 6 sightings
Hirola – 8 sightings
Grevy’s Zebra – 1 sighting
Predators – too many to mention

TENP, Voi River, Satao, Buchuma, Ndara, Aruba, Manyani, KMC, Lugards, Galana River, Msa Rd., Dida Harea 2,501 
 TOTALS  16  As above  As above  As above  2,501
 Total 2017  50  -  -  7,556

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:
• Water bore hole drilled and solar pump equipment and configuration being sought.
• Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) – Elephant and Bees Project with kind support and advice from Save The Elephants / Disney / WCS and Dr. Lucy King (who pioneered this concept) has been implemented on 3 different local community farms as a trial for more to come. Most beehives have been colonized by bees and in time will provide honey and further income to Kamungi residents.
• KWCA Training Workshop for Conservancy Managers – 2 members from Kamungi Conservancy attended a 2-day training workshop in Nairobi in late February 2017.

Elephants and bees project fence within Kamungi ConservancyPhoto shows one of the recently set up “elephants and bees” project fences within Kamungi Conservancy.

This method is proven and effective tool in mitigating Human Elephant Conflict (pioneered by Dr. Lucy King / STE) small-scale farm lands, but also as a welcomed revenue earner through honey sales.









Leopard Cub Release:

“Dotty” out on her daily walks in TENP with one of her dedicated keepers - photo copyright Tsavo TrustDotty the female leopard is nearly 11 months old and continues her slow rehabilitation process into the wild within TENP.

During her daily walk she has made several kills on her own accord including dikdiks, hyrax and francolin. This is a joint KWS / TT / IFAW project and so far has progressed well.










Unusual Photo of the Month:

Photo below shows a melanistic serval cat in Mukuaju area of TENP on 23rd March 2017 (courtesy of Kyalo Kimaile who heads Tsavo Trust research and monitoring units).

Melanistic serval cat in Mukuaju area of Tsavo East-  photo copyright Kyalo Kimaile


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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