Tag Archives: illegal activities

Ngala again!!! He uncovers more illegal snares and and cut stems in Arabuko forest

Sometimes I take a stroll in the Arabuko Sokoke forest to do bird watching and I never mind where I step because I really have my eyes fixed on the birds. I have been used to hanging my binoculars around my neck  and walking with my eyes fixed on tree branches and my ears keen to listen to bird calls. Last week on Friday I joined the Disney hero for snare and cut stem survey and was shocked after completing our 5km transect. I am Silas Ekesa and I am currently coordinating Ngala’s surveys and this opportunity has always given me a chance to unravel a lot of mysteries that still put our conservation efforts into a complex puzzle. We set our journey for Mkongani at exactly 8am, which was precisely 24hrs after I left the same forest at a different location after a whole night of camping  to trace the Sokoke Scops Owl. Ngala got me on a motorbike and we were there at exactly 9.30am. Right near to the edge of the forest at the beginning of the transect we came across a relatively open area where most Brachystagia and Manilkara spp had been cut down for charcoal burning and timber harvesting.

We counted up to 21 stems of cut tree within the first 2km and came across a few debarked trees which I couldn’t tell the reason why they were being debarked initially. Shortly afterwards,  we diverted and followed the transect deep into the forest away from the main path. Here, the forest became thick and bushy and that is when I started coming across the snares and had to think out why the snares were more common there. I realized that there different types of snares and Ngala explained to me the types according to the sizes and their position. There were snares for Duikers, Elephant shrews, Crested Guineafowls, Bushbucks and some meant to detect the presence of any other person passing through a given path. Ngala and I removed 21 snares by the time we got to the end of the transect and all of them were GPS marked for purposes of management and community-based environmental education.. On the way, we had also counted and recorded over 50 cut and debarked trees  whose GPS points were also taken.



During this survey, I noticed two things; one is that trees are poached near the main paths probably because of safety and ease of transport of timber and poles by poachers and two, the traps are laid away from the main paths probably because most of these animals are moving and feeding away from main paths where there is a lot of disturbance. You now know why you need to mind your steps.

There was very few animals we encountered while doing our survey which means there are chances that either they are migrating to run away from disturbance or they have been poached to critical levels. Our major worry and concern is about the local endemics such as the Elephant shrew and the Sokoke Scops Owl whose habitats are being damaged. David Ngala and I will continue with our efforts to conserve our forest and all the natural resources in it and we hope that your support through donations will boost us to conserve this only remaining patch of forest and the endemic species in it till you come to see it with your own eyes. Our pictures may not be of good quality because Ngala’s camera has a broken screen and I therefore used a poor quality camera.  Thanks to all of you who are already supporting us and we will keep you up to date with every step we take. Your support of this project is highly welcome through donations to help us get materials such as a good quality camera.

A poacher killed in the line of “duty”

sorry i was not able to load the photos well, here they are…

Hi this is Carol,

Activities at the forest have been quite overwhelming, data is collected daily on the illegal activities in the forest and the results are just overwhelming. Recently there was a poacher who was killed in the forest. The poacher was accidentally killed by a trap laid for elephants by other poachers.

The number of poachers within the forest is increasing, and with Arabuko Sokoke forest having big game such as elephants, there is intense survey of the forest and also of poachers, yet some go unnoticed.


Map of illegal activities in the forest.

David reported to me that last week, a poacher was killed in the forest when he accidentally fell for an elephant trap that was laid by another group of poachers. The poachers normally lay down the traps deep in the ground and cover them with earth and grass making it look almost normal ground that one may not be able to see the trap.

These traps are normally laid down inside the forest where elephants can be found roaming. It is difficult to lay a trap along designated paths as people often use these paths and rangers are often on patron on such paths hence the traps are hidden deep in the forest away from the designated walking paths.

desgnated-paths2.jpgDesignated foot paths in the forest.

The poachers make the trap using long nails that are pinned on wooden frames and the tips of the nails have poison on them, such that when an elephant accidentally steps on the tips of the nails, the nails will penetrate through the elephant eventually releasing the poison to the animals blood stream fast enough to kill it almost instantly. They later remove the elephant’s tusks and will eventually sell them to middlemen and to the ivory black market.

These are some of the activities that are on going in the forest and that David monitors daily. These activities pose a danger for researchers and others that don’t use the designated paths when going about their business.

David is still carrying out more survey on illegal footpaths in the forest. He has set up a meeting with the chief to discuss how the community can get involved.

That’s all for now, I will keep you updated on any occurrence within the forest.