A Busy Start to Our 12th Year in the January Report

In January, we were thrilled to host our patron, Princess Marie of Liechtenstein at Mara Elephant Project headquarters in the Mara. She was able to meet the staff, visit the rangers in the field, visit the co-existence farm and participate in a collaring operation for bull elephant Hannibal. She was joined by MEP Image Ambassador Jeffrey Wu to capture her visit.

On January 18, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) seized two pieces of elephant tusks and arrested one suspect based on MEP intelligence. The suspect was arrested on the border of Tanzania and Kenya in possession of 35.84 kg (79 lbs.) of ivory and handed over to the proper authorities. Joint intelligence operations like these are crucial to ensuring ivory isn’t crossing borders and seas. Intelligence rangers work together to raise the opportunity cost for poachers; if you are carrying elephant ivory, you will be caught, and everyone is working together to ensure justice is served.

In January, the two MEP / Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mau De-Snaring Units continued their efforts to remove snares and destroy kilns inside the Mau Forest. The “Charlie” and “Alpha” teams patrol the forest to remove snares, combat habitat destruction and promote co-existence.

On January 4, MEP rangers monitored a bull elephant in Mara North Conservancy with an injury. The KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mara Mobile Vet Unit was called in and we assisted his team during the treatment. The bull had two spear injuries, one on his back and the other on his shoulder, that were most likely obtained while crop raiding in nearby farms. That same day, the MEP mobile ranger unit responded to a report of a bull elephant with an arrow wound in need of treatment. They joined KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit to assist with the treatment in Naboisho Conservancy. The bull was successfully treated for one arrow wound and is expected to make a full recovery.

MEP helped to coordinate a veterinary treatment of a wounded bull elephant first reported by our friends at Serian Camp. The elephant is known in our database as individual 58. The MEP long-term monitoring (LTM) team quickly joined KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit and Mara North Conservancy rangers to assist with his treatment. There were four arrow wounds in total. The arrows were removed, the wounds treated, and thankfully the elephant is expected to make a full recovery. Thank you to Roisin Allen from Alex Walker Serian for the amazing photos.

In total, in January, MEP rangers alongside our government partners arrested 15 habitat destruction suspects, destroyed 49 kilns and 68 bags of charcoal, recovered 200 pieces of timber, 28 posts and two trees. They arrested four bushmeat poaching suspects and seized 25 kg of bushmeat. The rangers also mitigated 16 conflict incidents in January.

On January 31, Hannibal was re-collared alongside KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge to continue collecting movement data on him. Originally collared in 2019 in a forest right on the outskirts of Nairobi, he immediately streaked into the Rift Valley eventually settling in the Mosiro area. Hannibal has given KWS, the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) and MEP key insights into how elephants are navigating a landscape that is seeing an increase in urbanization and how that affects connectivity. He’s also a known crop raider in the area and tracking his movements have allowed MEP to rapidly respond when conflict arises.

On January 11, elephant “Gina” was re-collared near the Shimba Hills Airstrip in the Shimba Hills National Reserve with the assistance from KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge. Originally collared in 2019 in the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary by KWS, WRTI and MEP, Gina’s movement data provides an understanding of elephant movements in Shimba Hills and the Mwaluganje. 

In early January, Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall traveled to attend a meeting convened and financed by the Greater Serengeti Conservation Society held at the Serena Lodge in Ngorongoro Crater TZ. This was the third meeting he’s attended, and it serves as an incredibly useful annual update on science and research for managers and policymakers across the trans-national Serengeti-Mara system. Pictured left the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.

The Monitoring Framework led by Holly Dublin, Cindy Obath and Jake progressed in January and we scheduled many bilateral meetings with researchers/managers involved in development of the framework. We are creating ‘Indicator Cards’ that demonstrate examples of the questions, datasets, analyses and visualization outputs related to each of dozens of framework indicators that we collected during our first workshop in November.

In early January, Raymond Owino joined the MEP Research Department. He’s completing his master’s at the University of Nairobi and will be starting a PhD at Arizona University in September. He’s helping with various analyses, running our monthly reporting outputs and GIS data consolidation for the time he is here. He’s also helping to teach our team GIS and in turn is also learning about our Ecoscope tools. Welcome Raymond!

MEP’s Co-Existence Farm had a successful 2022 and as we begin 2023, we are grateful for all of our supporters and partners. The month of January begun with a few days of rainfall then towards the end of the month we experienced very hot weather. We had elephant and hippo visitors in January. Pictured left was damage to the cucumbers leftover from elephants. Our kitchen garden and medicinal garden are doing great. We planted seeds in the nursery and are patiently waiting for them to grow so we can transplant them next month.

A special thanks to Holly Budge who founded World Female Ranger Week for featuring MEP in a special article featuring the amazing work of female rangers in Kenya Airways in-flight magazine. Thank you to Explorers Against Extinction and all of their supporters for raising money to support the Co-Existence Farm. We are also extremely grateful to the thousands of people who supported us in December, making it one of the most successful giving seasons in the organization’s history. Your support makes it all possible.

MEP Monthly Report January 2023