Monthly Report: October 2016

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

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


58 (576 hrs for year to date)
Average 75 mph of low level flight


4,310 (43,465 miles for year to date)
Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  No. Observed
Large "Tuskers"   16 Tuskers - 14 bulls (7 Super Tuskers and 7 emerging Tuskers) and 2 cows
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   12 tusks (55 for year to date)

Elephant Carcasses

Fresh Recent
   7 (6 natural, 1 unconfirmed)  Nil (2 old carcasses with vory found)
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms  Nil  Nil
Carcasses/hours flown   1 every 8.3 hours of flight
Arrests   20 - Made by KWS with TT support – (all illegal livestock, TENP)
Snares/traps recovered   78 (by Tsavo Trust/Kamungi Scouts – 850 for the year)
Response/support to KWS - armed incidents   Nil (2 for year to date)
Other Illegal actvities   27 cattle bomas (29,650 plus cows, 5,000 shoats and 82+ people seen)
General important/relevant notes   
  • 1 & 3/10/16: Assisted KWS TENP with aerial support for cattle drive
  • 8/10/16: Assisted KWS SRS TENP with aerial recce over Galana Irrigation
  • 19/10/16: Amazing and very rare sight of a herd of 86 bull elephant including 1 Super Tusker & 3 emerging Tuskers, Galana River, TENP
  • Kamungi Scouts carried out 15 days of joint anti-poaching ops with KWS in TW & TE. 7 night ambushes after locating poaching activities
  • 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
  • CHNP largely on fire for most of month

Photo taken on 19th October 2016 showing just 2 of the last 12 free ranging black rhino in TENP.

2 Black Rhino in Tsavo

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
  • 7 bull Super Tuskers – 38 different sightings
  • 7 emerging Tuskers – 18 sightings
  • 2 iconic cow Tuskers – 2 sightings
  • Total sightings – 58
  • 19/10/16: An extra ordinary sighting of a single herd of 86 bull elephants together including 1 Super Tusker and 3 emerging Tuskers, TENP, Durusikale
  • Conditions remain worryingly very dry and several elephant have succumbed as a result
  • Cow Tuskers have been unusually difficult to locate due to long travels for browse and water

 - Rhino security: Ongoing partnership between KWS, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Tsavo Trust regarding rhino areas within the TCA. 4 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 9 Crosses SGR regularly. Frequents an unsafe area!
SA2 8 Moved back to normal location
KA1 6 Moved back to normal dry season location 
IL1 Lives in very difficult area to locate, no roads and lots of lave and thick bush
D11 4 Normal area and a real creature of habit. Looking very old and frail
BA1 Moving large distances to water.Not in safe area!
WS1 3 Back inside Park
SA80 3 Back to normal area
AR1 4 Back to normal area
KI1 Back to normal location
EM1 Moves long distances to water. Not in safe area!
KO1 Moves long distances to water. Not in safe area!
SL1 3 Moves long distances to water. Not in safe area!
KM2 2 Normal location
F_SO1 1 Moving big distances
F_XT 1 Moving big distances
Total 14 bulls, 2, cows: 58 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 of 5 TWNP bull elephants with Tusker KA1 at the back of the line, October 2016

5 Tsavo West Bull Elephants

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 – 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, 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, Danisa/Bombi
TWNP border – Nil 
Chyulu Hills NP – Il Talal, east & west side recce
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 October 2016 where 58 hours were flown in support to KWS for anti-poaching and wildlife monitoring across 4,310 miles over the Tsavo’s

Tsavo Trust flight paths October 2016

Kamungi Conservancy:

Kamungi Scouts – As well as patrol effort within Kamungi Conservancy and its environs, the Kamungi Scouts were active on patrol alongside KWS, mainly in both TENP (Triangle area) and TWNP (northern boundary). Notable activities:

  • Snares recovered: 78 for small and medium game
  • Arrests made: Nil
  • Bushmeat recovered: 15 freshly poached dikdik
  • Poacher hide outs: 2 (22nd and 26th Oct16)
  • Night ambushes: 7 (15th, 21st, 22nd, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th Oct16)
  • 11/10/16: 20 snares recovered, Lukenya
  • 13/10/16: 40 snares recovered, Lukenya
  • 15/10/16: Bushmeat poaching activities, TE Triangle
  • 20/10/16: 18 snares recovered, Lukenya
  • 22/10/16: Bushmeat poaching activities, Lukenya
  • 26/10/16: Bushmeat poaching activities, TE Triangle
  • 31/10/16: Recovery of 3 elephant tusks, jointly with KWS, following observations from the Tsavo Trust aircraft, TE Triangle

Ten freshly poached dikdik

Photo taken on 22nd October 2016 in the TENP Triangle of 10 freshly poached dikdik. KWS/TT set ambushes for these poachers on 7 consecutive nights but were not successful this time round.

Kamungi Scouts with recovered elephant tusks

Photo of Kamungi Scouts having recovered 3 elephant tusks during a joint patrol with KWS Rangers in TENP, Triangle area on 31st October 2016. 

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
8/10/16 3 - - - - - TENP
13/10/16 12 (3M, 6F, 3 cubs) - - - - - TENP
16/10/16 4 (2M, 2F) - - - - - TENP
20/10/16 9 - - 6 - - TENP
22/10/16 6 + 4 - 3 - - - TENP
26/10/16 6 - - - - - TENP
27/10/16 - 1 (M) - - - - TENP
29/10/16 - 1 (M) - - - - TENP
Totals 44 2 3 6 - -  

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
7/10/16 15 + 10 (3 young) - TENP
19/10/16 18 (5 young) - TENP
24/10/16 3 (1 young) - TENP
26/10/16 1 - TENP, Mukuaju
27/10/16 10 - TENP, Konu Moja
Total sightings 57 Nil  33 GZ positively ID'd to date

Photo below shows 3 very young Hirola in the shade of a bush in TENP on 7th October 2016 (courtesy of Joseph Kimaile – Tembo 2 team). 9 young Hirola calves have been observed in Ocotober16 and it is worrying that the rains are late for this calving time of year.

3 hirola in the shade of a bush

Unusual Photo of the Month:

With the serious drought ravaging many parts of Tsavo, this photo shows the unusual habitat destruction that has taken place around the man made Aruba water hole fed by a borehole and windmill. It very clearly shows how desertification of the habitat that surrounds the eye of this water source has led to a micro environmental disaster over a relatively short space of time.

Habitat destruction around Aruba water hole

The question remains – are permanent man made water sources the right way to go in semi desert environments where large elephant numbers exist? 27th October 2016, TENP

Aruba semi desert environment

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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