Monthly Report: September 2017

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

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance


54 (651 for year)
Average 72 mph of low level flight


3,866 (48,459 for year)
Flights carried out jointly with KWS staff

  No. Observed
Big "Tuskers"   11 Tuskers - 9 bulls (3 Super Tuskers and 3 emerging Tuskers) and 2 cows
  No. Recovered
Ivory Recovered   32 elephant tusks (97 for year to date - largest 53.5 and 52.5kg)

Elephant Carcasses

Fresh (less than 3 weeks old) Recent (less than 3 months old)
   16 (c of d: 16 natural)  (c of d: 3 natural, 2 unknown)
Carcasses / hours flown 1 every 4.8 hours of flight
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms Fresh - 1  Recent - 2
Arrests   6 - by KWS / TT – (1 bushmeat poachers, 5 livestock - 92 for year to date)
Snares/traps recovered   89 (by Tembo Teams - 752 for year to date )
Response/support to KWS - armed incidents  Nil ( 6 for year to date)
Other Illegal actvities 40 cattle bomas (9,620 plus cows, 6,250 shoats, 100 camels, 26 people)
Written reports to KWS 48 (daily emails, various reports, various communications and 1 monthly report)
General and significant notes
  • Drought conditions very serious. This month alone 21 elephant deaths recorded

  • Illegal livestock in the Tsavo Parks has mostly been driven out. Tsavo can breathe again

  • Aerial and ground support for rhino security ongoing through partnership with KWS / ZSL rhino program. 4 rhino specific recce flights carried out with KWS

  • 14/9/17 – 47 rhino and 1 Super Tusker observed in TWNP during aerial recce

Photo below taken on 18th September 2017, shows 25 freshly poached dikdiks confiscated from an arrested poacher by the joint KWS / Tsavo Trust Tembo 3 team who regularly operate along the TENP northern boundary (Triangle area). Half a dikdik carcass sells for just Ksh. 200 or US$ 2.

poached dik dik tsavo sept 2017

Wildlife Conservation Program

Big Tusker Project - aerial and ground teams:

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

  • Total of 11 different individual Tusker’s were observed from ground and air coverage.
  • 3 bull Super Tuskers – 13 different sightings.
  • 6 Emerging bull Tuskers – 16 sightings.
  • 2 iconic cow Tuskers – 3 sightings.
  • Total sightings – 32
  • Weather conditions: Exceedingly dry in most parts especially TENP and strong winds.

 - Elephant mortality: 21 carcasses located (16 fresh, 5 recent): Number of carcasses found was far higher than normal due to the severe drought. The main problem is not lack of water, as many might think, but a lack of food! 19 confirmed natural and 2 unknown deaths.

 - Rhino security:  4 rhino specific aerial recces took place with KWS / TT aircraft in TWNP. Tsavo Trust’s - Tembo 3 and 4 teams continued in support to KWS in the TW IPZ, where a 3-way partnership; KWS / ZSL and Tsavo Trust 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 4 In good health but requents an unsafe area!
IL1 4 In worrying and unsafe location on the Park boundary!
WS1 5 In a worrying and unsafe remote location outside the Park!
MA1 7 Normal location
KI1 5 Normal location
SO1 1 Althouhg first photographed in Dec 2014, this is a new emerging Tusker on the BTP database as from 9/9/17
DR1 2 Normal area
BU1 1 Normal area
MU1 1 In a worrying and unsafe location outside the Park
F_DI1 1 Had not been seen for 5 months, back to normal location
F_MU1 2 Normal area. Looking very old and thin. Always seen with her s/adult calf
Total 9 bulls, 2 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.

 Photo shows newly identified emerging bull Tusker coded as SO1 in TENP (photo by: Tembo 2 team)

Emerging bull elephant tusker - photo by Tsavo Trust Tembo 2 Research and Monitoring Team 

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 – Lake Jipe, Salaita, Toloa, Moare, Kanjaro, Kamshari, 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, KMC, Ngutuni, Kilifi and Galana Ranch

TWNP border – Ziwani 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.

Tsavo Trust flight paths September 2017September 2017 flight paths over Tsavo:August 2017 flight paths over Tsavo: 54 hours flown, 3,866 miles covered

Supporting KWS activities:
• Anti-poaching
• Big Tusker monitoring
• Illegal livestock
• Wildlife monitoring
• Aerial census







Photo below taken on 29th September 2017 in TENP, showing one of the many juvenile elephant calves that were found to have succumbed to drought between the Kanderi to Aruba section of Voi River. 70% of elephant mortality observed in TENP in September 2017 occurred in close proximity to the man-made water points, where desertification of surrounding habitat is clearly visible and taking its toll!

dead juvenile elephant calf tsavo drought 2017

Photo below shows a fresh elephant carcass, with ivory intact (later recovered by joint KWS / TT Tembo 1 team) being fed on by lion, on 8th September 2017. Lion prides have noticeable increased in size in recent months with plentiful fresh elephant carcasses to feed from, as a result of the severe drought that Tsavo East is facing. Tsavo lions are well known for preying on juvenile elephants and this is compounded during drought months when elephants are weakened. 21 carcasses were located in September alone and 38 tusks recovered jointly by KWS / TT teams.

Elephant carcass being fed on by lion in tsavo east photo by Tsavo Trust

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 anti-poaching focused whilst Tembo 2 and Tembo 4 teams are 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
(7 men + 3 KWS men)
20 - 16 29 125kg Lesser Kudu x 2, dikdiks x 25, bushbuck x 1 1 bicycle, 1 panga, lamping horn, 2 lamping spot lights, cooking equip. 1 2,228
Tembo 3 Kamungi
(12 men)
30 1 - 60 61kg - 25 dikdiks 1 lamping torch, 1 lamping horn, 1 knife Nil 2,950
Chui team
- - - - - - - -
TOTALS 50 1 16 89 As above As above 3 5,178
Totals 2017 494 38 66 752 - - 34 59,346

Photo of 1 arrested bushmeat poacher with 25 freshly poached dikdiks on 18th September 2017 by joint KWS / TT Tembo 3 team (Kamungi Scouts) along the northern border of TENP – Triangle area.  

 Arrested bush meat poacher with 25 dikdiks in tsavo - photo by Tsavo Trust


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  23
  • Tusker monitoring
  • Hirola monitoring
  • Grevy's zebra monitoring
  • Carnivore monitoring
  • Mombasa/Nairobi - Road and SGR kill surveys
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Fixed point photos
  • Tuskers – 11 sightings
  • Hirola – 5 sightings
  • Grevy’s Zebra – 4 sightings
  • Large Carnivores – 17 sightings
  • Road and Rail kills - 2
TENP, Voi River, Satao, Buchuma, Dakota, Ndara, Aruba, Manyani, KMC, Lugards, Koitu, Emusaya, Galana River, Msa Rd., Dida Harea 5,147 
Tembo 4 30
  • Tusker monitoring
  • Rhino monitoring
  • Carnivore monitoring
  • Mombasa/Nairobi - Road and SGR kill surveys
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Fixed point photos
  • Tuskers – 16 sightings
  • Rhino – various and NRS night census
  • Large Carnivores – 9 sightings
  • Road and Rail kills - 1
TWNP, Kamboyo, Mangalete, Kilaguni, Mzima, Shetani, Finch H, Ziwani Kitani, Tsavo River, Rhino Valley, IPZ ,NRS 3,561
 TOTALS  53  As above  As above  As above  8,708
 Total 2017  227  -  -  38,431

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) continues in varying ways; employment, HWC, water projects and much more. Tsavo Trust employs a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) to help coordinate activities:

  • Kamungi Water Project - bore hole, solar pump equipment, a 2.5-kilometer delivery pipe line to Ngiluni village and now a 100,000 litre water tank has been built. Final water dispensing "kiosk" is under construction before official opening.

Photo shows Kamungi Conservancy 100,000ltr water tank and dispensing “kiosk” under construction.

Kamungi Conservancy clean water tank and dispensing kiosk Tsavo Conservation Area

  • Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) – Funding for a 5th elephant / bee fence has been received under the Elephant and Bees Project (pioneered by Lucy King and Save The Elephants). This new fence will be set up in October prior to the rainy season.

Animal Welfare Program: LEOPARD RELEASE PROGRAM:

  • “Dotty” the female leopard is now 17 months old. She has been fully wild and fending for herself for over 1 month now. Her satellite collar is providing extraordinary information and has enabled us to track her with relative ease. A component that is so vital given that her release area is largely road-less and harsh terrain, making it very challenging to know her movements without such a collar.
  • “Sophie”, the second leopard under rehabilitation is growing fast and it is now becoming urgent to move her to her final release site in TWNP, pending final approvals. She will be held her for at least 6 months before a “hard release”.
  • Other orphans: various other smaller mammals in our care (lesser kudu, duiker, dikdik, zebra, mongeese) are doing very well and as Tsavo Trust HQ borders directly onto TENP – Triangle it is naturally an ideal release location once these orphans grow to adulthood. 


On 10th September 2017 from a camera trap set at “Dotty’s” release boma in TENP – Triangle, this magnificent nocturnal striped hyena was photographed.

Striped Hyena camera trap Tsavo East National Park

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), USAid, 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, Ndovu Trust (UK), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, 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, 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 – InsidersAfrica, Simon Herd, 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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