MWEA, SAMBURU, KANO PLAINS, MARA FINDINGS
Hi all. I have been back in the office for 3 days having just toured some of the areas where there has been documentation of carbofuran poisoning. All seems well at the gaze with the full spectacle of the wild animals and birds feeding, playing and even in the act that will culminate in breeding. But is all really well? Indeed it is good news of no poisoning for some places and still bad news of poisoning for others. Nonetheless, for the good news I managed a smile on the last day or is it night of the trip.
Yesterday I received a call alert (‘flash’) from an unfamiliar number. I flashed back but no return flash to signify any urgency. I ignored the number but while I scrolled through my call log to make another call this morning, I stumbled on the number that I was flashed with yesterday. It then struck my mind that I had noted down some numbers during the field trip. I checked my field note book and there I stumbled on it! It belonged to a certain guy in Mwea who I had approached and faked that I needed bird meat. We had then fixed a meeting for early this month. We agreed that he would alert me when he was ready and that he would link me with a bird meat vendor who poisoned the birds. You would not suspect that such a deal can take place in such a place especially given that everybody else seemed busy planting rice.
In the neighbourhood of Kisumu town, in Kano plains, some kilometres past the site that was Ahero Rice Scheme, there is an out grower scheme where locals are growing rice on individual rice plots. During a short stop over, I observed a lot of birds flocked in the place and a couple of farmers were out working in their plots. I talked to one old woman to know if the birds were not a problem at harvest time. She said they were indeed but her grandchildren would chase them away by wails and beating of metal cans. I then asked her if she thought killing of some of the birds would be a solution but she said she did not think it was necessary adding that in any case, birds were being poisoned for meat. I then confirmed that after all, there is poisoning in the area. For a while there was on-going bird poisoning in Ahero Rice Scheme but with the stalling of the operations of the rice scheme, bird congregations have reduced and Furadan supply for use in the irrigation scheme also cut, bringing a cessation in the poisoning frenzy.
Samburu NR seemed all tranquil, with the expected heat dominating the local climatic conditions and emphasizing ‘this is Samburu’. For three days I roamed the reserve with my friend and spotted many carnivores and scavengers. We got to see six lionesses in total but were disturbed that we had spotted no lions absolutely during the three whole-day drives around the national reserve. In fear that poisoning might have taken the lives of quite many of these I ended up talking to an expert in the area who advised me to relax and that the kings of the jungle were around, not always in company of their ‘wives’ and there were strategic localities where these could be found. I was glad the place was safe for the time despite earlier recorded incidences of carnivore poisoning in the area, though she added that she was in the process of getting to find out more about poisoning in the area.
Masai Mara also turned out looking good. I even passed by the Mara Conservancy incognito. The area has had the most recently documented cases of poisoning-this year, 2008. With hippos and lions as the reported victims, both seemed to do just fine. It was captivating witnessing lion/lionesses feasting, playing and in the act of breeding in one encounter.
The lioness below took advantage and got “the lion’s share!”
while the lion paid attention to his queen in an imminently heated up act that would bring forth another generation!
The vultures on the other hand looked good sprawled on the grass, not dead but waiting for thermals.
Generally the presence of the Gnu on the first of their biannual migration to and from (Tanzania for this case) Kenya and Tanzania enhanced the bountifulness of wildlife in the Mara. Isn’t this beautiful?