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Aardvark poaching

October 16, 2011

This week one of our game scouts’ patrols revealed that meat poachers will take most animals. During one of the ambushes, the scouts intercepted a group of bush-meat poachers carrying one of most unusual animals, an aardvark (Orycteropus   afer) . This is the first time such a species has been found in a poacher’s bag by our scouts, heading for sale along Mombasa road. The aardvark is so unusual it is classified in its own family taxonomically, has declined to point of local extinction in many areas across Africa and is generally consider vulnerable in all settled areas.

 

Aardvark parts found in a poacher's bag

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New baby rhino!!!!! Whoohoo!!

September 16, 2011

We have confirmed the birth of a new baby eastern black rhino, probably born less than a week ago. As yet we don’t have any photos of him or her, but if we get some we will be putting them up. The rhino of the Chyulu Hills are very secretive and the habitat extremely thick so photos are hard to get.

Regardless, every baby is big news! There are about 700 Eastern black rhino left on earth – 701 now!! MPT is in the process of developing better methods to track absolute numbers of rhino in our population, as well as track life-histories. So far our focus has been security, which is an important element but it does not ensure our babies have a good genetic foundation, so we are working to ensure that is taken care of by introducing more animals.

Please dontate to the rhino project if you can – see ‘the crunch’ page.

‘Officer Bosco’ dies

September 5, 2011

Our amazing tracker dog Bosco has died. He was at the vet for 6 weeks while the vet tried to deal with complications from a thorn that imbedded in his chest during an anti-poaching mission in January. Everything seemed to be going really well and we were excited that he was going to be fit and ready to start work again. However, while at the vet’s we got news that he had died during the night as a result of a twisted gut.

Bosco in the field

‘Officer Bosco’, as he was known by the scouts, was a legend in the Amboseli area before he died. He was responsible for the arrest of more than 40 poachers; these ranged from local bush-meat poachers in and around Maasailand to the well-armed poachers of Tsavo.

We are all devastated here, especially his handlers who lived and worked with him for the last 4 years, 7 days a week. A big thank you goes to Ol Jogi, Tusk Trust and Save the Rhino for making our tracker dog program happen, also for keeping Bosco in active service for his short, happy and very productive life. We have two more tracker dogs online now to continue the work and we will keep you updated on their progress.

Farewell Officer Bosco….

 

'Officer Bosco'

Impala

August 16, 2011

Wildlife around the MPT headquarters is abundant at present, as the surrounding lands have dried and very little surface water is available. Close to the MPT offices is a small waterhole that is provided by Ol Donyo Wuas lodge, so game gathers in good numbers at times.

One species is the impala, a medium-sized antelope of superb proportions. These elegant creatures are relatively common and easy to spot, so often receive only cursory glances from tourists once the novelty has worn off. But they are truly beautiful and if you’re lucky enough to see them run and leap at full speed it is a sight not easily forgotten.

Female impala

Rhino unit on patrol

August 1, 2011

MPT runs several game scout outposts on Mbirikani and within Chyulu Hills National Park. On any given day game scouts are on patrol from the outposts, sometimes running joint operations with the Kenya Wildlife Service rangers. Often they will leave one person behind to cook unless they are on a multi-day patrol.  Yesterday a vehicle patrol came across fresh activities of an adult rhino close to the outpost. The scouts explained that the scratch marks on a tree were less than 2 hours old, so care was needed as the animals rhino could be very close to us.

Scouts from the rhino unit

Further on we came across a wallow with fresh tracks on the ground. As they usually do to warn poachers, the scouts walked heavily on the ground ensuring they left their footprints – that way poachers know that the scouts are keeping a vigilant watch over the rhinos

 

Rhino prints!

Dehorning rhinos in Zimbabwe

July 29, 2011

Maasailand Preservation Trust CEO, Richard Bonham and three rangers from Maasailand Preservation Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service have just returned from Zimbabwe where they went for training on how to dehorn rhinos. Dehorning rhinos is one way to diminish the economic value of the animals to poachers, and it is one method that may have to be used by MPT if the threat of rhino poaching continues to increase in the Chyulu Hills. Unfortunately dehorning does not completely stop the killing of rhino for horn, as the price is currently so high that even the remaining stump is worth a great deal of money. Research into dehorning has been found not to have major effects on the animals, and the horn grows back at a few centimeters per year. The cut horn is weighed, logged and secured in a vault.

Using a chainsaw to dehorn rhino

Rhinos are generally dehorned using a chainsaw, so their eyes are covered and ears are plugged; obviously they are darted too! It’s a stressful time for the rhino and sad thing to have to do simply to save the lives of these magnificent creatures.

The team is back into the country and we are looking forward to learning from them. Our most sincere thanks goes to Save the Rhino International and the US Fish & Wildlife Service for making this trip happen.

Bushfire!

July 28, 2011

Most of MPT HQ staff spent whole of last night fighting a bushfire that burned over 100 hectares close to the rhino habitat in the hills. Bushfires are common at this time of the year as herders and miraa (khat, a form of stimulant used widely) pickers burn bushes for fresh vegetation to grow. Although bushfires can be a useful savannah management tool, they need to be controlled. Our biggest worry with this one was that the fire would reach the rhino area and we would not be able to manage it, but with the efforts of our rangers and staff from Oldonyo Lodge, we managed to get it under control. But it was stressful and hard work!