We have now located all the animals in the lower triangle (7 animals) and have recovered the collar from a recent mortality (Sawani, collar # 30070). We spoke to the landowner who recovered the collar and were told that the animal was found dead with a spear wound to its back hind leg. Sawani’s movements were the greatest amongst all the animals that we have collared in this area, so it is unfortunate that we will be unable to follow her movements over a longer time period.
There are still 2 animals that we are having trouble finding in the upper triangle area near Nairobi National Park. Since the animals are currently in the park, we will need to be accompanied by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers while radio-tracking due to the presence of large predators in the area. We did find the other two collars that are currently deployed in the area (collars 30074 and 30086) but have moved back into the lower triangle to continuing tracking.
In additoin, we have already seen the effect that fencing can have on predation while tracking Karbolo last week. While talking to the landowner about what we were doing, the landowner’s dogs (which protect the livestock in the boma from predators and are also sometimes used for hunting) flanked a young Thomson’s gazelle and pushed it towards a fenced that lined the property. The other dogs in the group were on the other side of the fence waiting in an ambush. Unfortunately, things didn’t end well for the gazelle and it was an all too visible reminder of how detrimental fences can be to wildlife. There was no way for the gazelle to spot the barbed wire fence that awaited him.
The good news is that we were able to scare off a group of poachers from killing an Eland today. This was my first sighting of an Eland, the largest antelope in Africa. We were again collecting information on Kiranto when we noticed a number of animals that were being flushed from the area (large herds of wildebeest and zebra, and a small family group of giraffe). We then noticed that there were about 10-15 dogs that were chasing the adult male Eland with two hunters following closely behind.
As we approached the scene in our vehicle, the hunters quickly turned and ran (I think believing that we were a Kenya Wildlife Service patrol vehicle). We then drove the vehicle towards the dogs to scare them away. We were successful, although the Eland was visibly very tired/exhausted. He probably had been chased all morning. Beautiful animal.