Monthly Report: November 2016

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

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


46 (622 hrs for year to date)
Average 76 mph of low level flight


3,509 (46,974 miles for year to date)
Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  No. Observed
Large "Tuskers"   16 Tuskers - 13 bulls (5 Super Tuskers and 8 emerging Tuskers) and 3 cows
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   12 tusks (55 for year to date)

Elephant Carcasses

Fresh Recent
   17 (13 natural, 3 poached, 1 hit by truck)  Nil (2 old single ele tusks/ivory found)
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms  Nil  Nil
Carcasses/hours flown   1 every 2.7 hours of flight
Arrests   Nil - Made by KWS with TT support – (all illegal livestock, TENP)
Snares/traps recovered   115 (by Tsavo Trust/Kamungi Scouts – 965 for the year)
Response/support to KWS - armed incidents   Nil (2 for year to date)
Other Illegal actvities   20 cattle bomas (16,160 plus cows, 8,700 shoats and 344+ people seen)
General important/relevant notes
  • Several fresh elephant carcasses (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?

  • 12th to 20th Nov - Kamungi Scouts carried out 7 days of joint anti-poaching ops with KWS in Arabuko/Sokoke Forest on Kenya North Coast. 115 snares and other equipment recvd.

  • 28/11/16 – 1 baby ele found with sick mother, TENP, reported to KWS Vet Unit and calf later recvd by DSWT and mother treated

  • 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

28th November 2017 TENP – apparently dead mother elephant and her young calf, found during a joint KWS/Tsavo Trust aerial flight. KWS/DSWT Vet Unit later recovered the calf and the mother lifted to her feet where it is believed she has survived, but not confirmed. Photo: Josh Outram/Tsavo Trust

28th November 2017 TENP – apparently dead mother elephant and her young calf

Big Tusker Project - aerial and ground teams (Tembo 2):

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

  • Total of 16 different individual Tusker’s were observed from ground and air coverage
  • 5 bull Super Tuskers – 12 different sightings
  • 8 emerging Tuskers – 17 sightings
  • 3 iconic cow Tuskers – 3 sightings
  • Total sightings – 32
  • Weather conditions: Heavy rains have fallen in many parts of Tsavo, which is much needed. With this rain, elephants have moved far and wide thus making them difficult to locate regularly. This is the main reason for lower Tusker sightings this month.
  • Elephant mortality: Several fresh elephant carcasses 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?

 - Rhino security: Ongoing partnership between KWS, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Tsavo Trust regarding rhino areas within the TCA. 5 specific rhino recce flights took place- covering parts of TWNP NRS, TW IPZ and TENP IPZ.

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

Tusker Code No. Times
Seen / Month
LU1 1 Crosses SGR regularly. Frequents an unsafe area!
SA2 5 Normal location
KA1 1 Moved with recent rains 
DI1 Normal area and a real creature of habit. Looking very old and frail
WS1 2 Back to normal location
SA80 Back to normal area
AR1 1 Back to normal area
MA1 1 Back to normal area
EM1 1 Moves long distances to water. Not in safe area!
KO1 Moves long distances to water. Not in safe area!
SL1 1 Moves long distances to water. Not in safe area!
KM2 3 Normal location
BU1 2 Has moved with the rains. Notin safe area!
F_DI1 1 Moving big distances with rains
F_MU1 1 Moving big distances with rains
F_VPL 1 Back to original location
Total 13 bulls, 3, cows: 32 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.

Tsavo Trust’s Super Cub carrying out low-level aerial reconnaissance.
Appropriate aerial coverage is one of the most vital tools necessary to secure and protect the huge expanse of Tsavo.

Tsavo Trust’s Super Cub carrying out low-level aerial reconnaissance

7th November TENP, photo of the magnificent iconic cow Tusker coded as F_VPL. It is this strong gene pool of both cow and bull elephants who carry such impressive ivory that sets Tsavo apart as arguably the best place left on the planet today to come a view a Tusker. Photo courtesy of Joseph Kyalo Kimaile/Tsavo Trust.

Magnificent iconic cow tusker

Areas Covered: Table below 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 – NIL

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 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 November 2016 where 46 hours were flown in support to KWS for anti-poaching and wildlife monitoring across 3,509 miles over the Tsavo’s

Tsavo Trust flight map November 2016

Kamungi Conservancy:

Field Mobile Units:

Kamungi Scouts – As well as patrol effort within Kamungi Conservancy and its environs, the Kamungi Scouts were active on patrol alongside KWS. Notable activities:

  • Carried out a joint KWS/Tsavo Trust 7 day patrol in Arabuko Sokoke Forest on the north Kenya coast.
  • Ivory recovered: 2 tusks
  • Snares recovered: 115 for small and medium game
  • Arrests made: Nil
  • Bushmeat recovered: Nil
  • Poacher hide outs: 1 (7th Nov16)
  • Night ambushes: 3 (7th, 16th & 17th Nov16)
  • 6/11/16: Poacher sighted carrying 1 elephant tusk. Chased but escaped, but 1 tusk recovered
  • 7/11/16: KWS/KS team backtracked yesterdays poacher and found used camp and fresh elephant carcass. A second elephant tusk recovered
  • 14/11/16: 2 axes & 7 pangas recovered in Arabuko Forest
  • 16/11/16: 40 snares recovered - Arabuko
  • 17/11/16: 50 snares recovered - Arabuko
  • 18/11/16: 10 snares recovered - Arabuko
  • 19/11/16: 15 snares recovered - Arabuko
  • 31/10/16: Recovery of 3 elephant tusks, jointly with KWS, following observations from the Tsavo Trust aircraft, TE Triangle

Photo of Kamungi Scouts/Tsavo Trust having recovered 2 elephant tusks from a fleeing poacher during a joint patrol with KWS Rangers in TENP, Triangle area on 7th November 2016.

Kamungi Scouts with recovered elephant tusks

Endangered species/Predator Monitoring – support to KWS/TCA Research Departments

Predators Observed from the air and Tembo 2 ground unit:

Date Lion Leopard Cheetah Wild Dog Serval Others Remarks
10/11/16 5 1 - - - - TENP
13/11/16 4 - - - - - TENP
16/11/16 4 + 1 - - - - - TENP
18/11/16 3(F) + 3(M) +2 - - - - - TENP
20/11/16 - - - - - 1 Striped Hyena TENP, Tiva River
21/11/16 1 - - - - - TENP
27/11/16 1(F) + 5 - - - - - TENP
28/11/16 5 (3F, 2 cubs) - - - - - TENP
Totals 34 1 Nil Nil Nil 1 S/hyena  

Critically Endangered Species Observed from air and Tembo 2 (not incl. rhino or wild dog):

Tsavo Trust’s Tembo 2 team operates in partnership with TENP Research and Monitoring Unit and covers predator and endangered species monitoring as well as Big Tusker Monitoring. Grevy’s zebra monitoring is regularly carried out, whereby information gathered from the field on rear right side strip patterns feed into the Grevy’s zebra database for individual ID purposes. Tsavo also holds approximately 70 critically endangered Hirola, believed to be fewer than 500 individuals on the planet today.

Date Hirola Grevy's Zebra Others/Remarks
5/11/16 1 + 1 - TENP, Satao
9/11/16 - 1+1 TENP and KMC
10/11/16 2 +7 + 5 + 3 - TENP, Satao
11/11/16 3 - TENP, Mukuaju
17/11/16 1 - TENP, Aruba
18/11/16 11 + 13 - TENP, Dika
21/11/16 1 - TENP
22/11/16 17 - TENP, Dika
28/11/16 6 - TENP
29/11/16 7 (1M, 4F, 2 yng) - TENP
Total sightings 78 2  33 GZ positively ID'd to date

Unusual Photo of the Month:

Photo of a cow elephant with a backward growing left tusk, November 2016, TENP

Cow elephant with a backward growing left tusk


With thanks and appreciation to:

Kenya Wildlife Service, Save The Elephants/Wildlife, Conservation Network Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF), Stuart Herd, Nick Southgate, James Robertson, Tusk Trust UK & USA, The Woodtiger Fund, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Zoological Society of London, 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) and Southern Cross Safaris (Msa), Tropical Ice Ltd, International Foundation for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Salama Fikira, Ian Craig, The Art of BAS & Oak Furniture Ltd (UK), Geri Bauer, Kathy Snowden, Murray Grant, Simon Herd, Saving the Survivors, Karen Laurence-Rowe, OnSafari Kenya Ltd, Anadarko Kenya Co., Askari Project – Australia, Chris Acreman, Paul & James Wilson, Eaton Electric, Enable Green Energy, 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

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