Tag Archives: snares

KWS follow up on tree poachers campsites in Arabuko-Sokoke

After last weeks survey in which we discovered two camp sites, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) took immediate action and on Wednesday15th David and I were accompanied by the researcher at KWS plus two rangers, to the camp sites. We set out at 8:40am this time with the KWS Car. On our way we saw a dead Eastern Bearded Scrub-Robin( Cercotrichas quadrivirgata). We could not tell the cause of death but David thought it could be a snake bite.

We arrived at Munir site around 9:16am and set up everything to go in. After only 300 metres walk we saw a cut tree log written TOKENI HATARI which literally means LEAVE DANGER. There were two ways we could take this message written on the cut trees 1) The tree poachers were trying to communicate with their partners and warning them that they had been found out, or 2) The message was meant for us, attempting to intimidate  and scare us away from their camp… As we went further to the campsite we saw the same message more than twice. On reaching the camp we were able to judge that the messages were meant for us since there was one which said PLIZ CALL OR SMS FOR MAELEWANO YA KAZI which is to say that “WE SHOULD CALL FOR NEGOTIATIONS”.

At the same site there was another writing which was a warning to the other poachers that they should leave since we had been at the camp site (TOKENI JAMAA WAMEINGIA HADI HAPA meaning “Get out of here! The rangers have come right to this spot!”). They must have seen our footsteps from our first survey.

After taking pictures,we continued with the survey and took another  path. This path had a lot of snares and less tree cuttings. The KWS rangers took note and said they will be surveying that area regularly. It was a very cloudy day and later on the path it rained on us but luckily it was not a heavy downpour. We walked out of the forest at around 1:00pm.

It was  a shocking and scary day since we did not know what the poachers were up to with the intimidating messages and this was the first time that I saw this. It was at least safer with the two rangers who were on high alert after seeing that there were a lot of writings.

Rangers reading message

Rangers reading message

Creating maps from David’s snare data

For some time now we have been keen to streamline the process of linking David’s data collection to of illegal activities in the forest with useful outputs that the forest managers can use for the effective control of such activities in the forest. It also helps other conservation organisations such as A Rocha Kenya and NatureKenya focus their community conservation work in the areas which are therefore shown to be where the most illegal activities are happening.

We are therefore delighted that Patrick who has been volunteering with David’s work for a year or more as and when he was able to, is now settled into a regular spot each week to enter David’s data, produce maps of where the snares and cut trees are, and write short reports for the managers, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service.

More will be added about Patrick, his artistic skills and interest and expertise in GIS that he has learnt over the last couple of years from visiting volunteers at A Rocha Kenya on the “Meet the Team” page – watch this space!

Patrick entering data and producing maps

Patrick entering data and producing maps

Patrick has started working on maps and reports for David and we’ll be posting examples of what he has managed to produce together with updates and news about David’s work – Patrick’s task will be to be writing on the blog and giving you information about the critical work that David is doing. Please respond with comments and also if you are willing to contribute to assist in covering both David & Patrick’s costs, that would be hugely appreciated.

Colin Jackson – FoASF Chairman

Snared suni rescued!

I surveyed an area of Vithundani Village on the North West of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. The habitat of the area is Cynometra thicket. I followed the path which was entering the forest and I found 43 animal snares. 17 snares were old were old and the rest were active. When I spotted the 7th snare, I found a female Suni was caught in it and still alive. I took a movement picture and then released it, as shown below.

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In the same path, at the 19th snare, I found another Suni was caught, and the owner of the snares took some days without checking them. This caused the animal to become rotten as shown here, with only a piece of its leg left by the snare.

Skeleton of the trapped suni

Skeleton of the trapped suni

David Ngala

More Elephant Poaching in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest

While patrolling the elephant trails in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest on the 16th of September, a Kenya forest guard accidentally stepped on a trap set by elephant poachers. The trap (pictured below) is a crude device, which essentially amounts to a poison-covered knife, stuck through a piece of wood and buried in the ground so that only the tip of the knife is above ground.

The guard was rushed to the hospital, where he remained for nearly a week. He returned home on the following Tuesday and is now on his way to a full recovery. As we’ve previously reported, however, a poacher who stepped on an elephant trap two years ago was not so lucky, and was found dead in the forest some days later.

The greater issue here is that there is no way of knowing how many more of these traps are in the forest. This latest trap was found in the northeast part of the forest, near Mida Creek, and the first one was found some fifteen to twenty kilometres from this one, nearer to the middle of the forest, suggesting that there may be a great deal more poaching going on in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest.

David has suggested to the Kenya Wildlife Service that in order to avoid these kind of mishaps in the future, metal detectors should be used when patrolling the elephant trails for poachers.

Forest Patrol

The forest destruction in the Nature Reserve has come high, especially in the Cynomentra habitat, cutting down the Brachylaena trees for carvings and a lot of different sized snares for different animals.

Poachers have gone to the reserve and set up many camps. They change camps as they run out of trees, and now that the Brachylaena trees are almost finished, they have moved to the mixed forest to cut the Mtangai trees.

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Many of the animals in the Nature Reserve – elephants, buffalos, sunis and duikers are now scared of being disturbed by humans, which have forced elephants to stay close to the Arabuko pool for almost a year.

The current Forester at Gede Station has set up routine patrols inside the Reserve with his Forest Guards, aiming to reduce the destruction from human activity. I have been with him and his Guards several times and on the last trip, we discovered two snares, one still holding a rotten Suni carcass. We also came across an old camp where the poachers had stayed for approximately 6 months. We followed the road to Nyari and stopped at the other vegetation where we entered the Reserve.

gambian rat trap small mammal trap in Arabuko-Sokoke

I have worked at Arabuko-Sokoke Forest for about 37 years and this Forester is the only officer I have met who really loves his job. I am really proud of him.

Tracing the tracks of the dead man (poacher).

Tracing the tracks of the dead man (poacher).

In an earlier blog I had mentioned the story of the poacher who died in the forest after he accidentally stepped on an elephant snare that was set by another poacher who was targeting to kill an elephant. I later on when to do a follow up of that story and retraced the path taken by that poacher. I started by visiting the dead man’s family, I was taken to his family by some community members. I however did not refer to the dead man as a poacher this was to show some respect to the family. The family gave me their view of what they thought happened. I was also informed that on that fateful day the dead man was accompanied to the forest by his elder brother, his elder brother retraced the last moment and he even agreed to take me to the forest and show me the path where it all happened.

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The household of the man.

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The grave.

We followed the path that the dead man took, as we continued following the path I came across 31 snares they seemed to be snares for small animals such as Sunis, however most of them were dismantled. The path we took lead us to the road from Kararacha to Nyari view point. At this particular spot the elder brother showed me the path that he had marked, it was sort of an agreement between him and his brother on which route not to take. Unfortunately it seemed the dead took a wrong path and ended up stepping on the snare. After stepping on the snare he tried to walk for a while however he could not go far as the poison on the snare was quickly running through his body, he decide to sit down and he asked his brother to go get help, when his brother returned with help unfortunately he was already dead. He quickly went back home to inform the rest what had happened and they found a way to carry his body from the forest.

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Me being shown the path.

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The sign.

When I asked his brother what they were looking for in the forest he simply said mushrooms, I was not full convinced that they were looking for mushrooms, as why would they go deep in the forest to look for that and secondly why would they take the paths that are restricted, and why take the elephant tracks? I kept on wondering this but I did not want to raise it up with his brother as it would be pointless to argue with him on that.

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The brother of the dead man holding mushrooms.

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The mushrooms.

Personally I am very sorry that his brother died, am mostly sorry for his family. However I still feel that they had ill intentions especially where the elephants were concerned. The elephant trap has not been found till now and this poses a big risk not only to the elephants but to those who use the forest daily such as researchers, tourists and even me!

It was helpful to be shown the path and to follow it, we now have a clue where the traps could be located for we also took the GPS coordinates, it just a matter of time before we actually locate the them, in as much as we have a clue where to start from, no one is willing to take the risk of going to look for the traps without the proper equipment for fear of being the next victims. We tend to think that they are many snares in the forest.

As we lack the necessary equipment such as metal detectors to enable us to locate the traps quickly, the snare continue to pose a big risk. We are kindly requesting for your help in purchasing a metal detector and good walking boots, to be used for patrols in the forest, these equipment will assist us to remove the metal snare that are normally targeted for elephants and make the forest much safer for them and for people as well.

Yous David Ngala

Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest

Conservation Officer.

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