Gambella, Ethiopia: On January 28th the Gambella team, investigated an elephant collar that transmitted from the same spot for two days. By coincidence, we had a helicopter available as part of the prospection of the park, enabling us to get to the site. Sadly, five elephants (four cows and a sub adult) were found dead in a flooded area along the Gilo River. All the ivory was intact and the carcasses had been covered in grass in an attempt to prevent them from being detected. The helicopter was unable to land but team members leapt into the water to try and recover the ivory. The depth of the water made it an impossible task and only one tusk was recovered. When the team was able to return with better equipment, all of the ivory had been removed.
In the ten days that the helicopter was in Gambella, a total of 12 different groups of lions were spotted. Such sightings, along with Gambella being home to the second largest mammal migration on the planet including the 800,000 white eared kob, renews our commitment to try and secure a long-term management agreement for the park. Unfortunately the security situation in the area has declined rapidly with serious hostilities between the Anuak and Nuer, the two main ethnic groups in the region. As a result the Park Manager Martin Rickelton and his small team relocated to Addis Ababa to try and make some progress with the negotiations for the long term management agreement for this remarkable park.
Ennedi, Chad: In late December, after a two-week expedition, Leon Lamprecht (Operations Director for Francophone Africa) and Rocco Rava (Ennedi Project Manager) were able to confirm that there are still some Barbary sheep present with seven having been spotted. Jean Marc Froment (Conservation Director) and Rocco have been meeting with local communities and begun the process of getting Ennedi classified as a protected area.
Shaba Hills and Buffalo Springs, Kenya: We are aiming to conclude the agreement and begin work by May this year, but the Isiolo Local Government still has some steps to take in order to secure the necessary internal approvals to allow the project to proceed.
Bazaruto Archipelago Marine National Park, Mozambique: progress was made in a meeting between Andrew Parker (Operations Director) and ANAC (Administração Nacional das Areas de Conservação) on the draft agreement. The Park was established in 1971 as Mozambique’s first Marine PA, with the aim of protecting dugongs, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine species.