On June 16, there was an elephant treatment that truly highlighted the team effort our organization can now put into protecting the wildlife, communities and habitat of the Maasai Mara. The elephant treatment, while routine, highlighted our rangers, long-term monitoring (LTM) team, helicopter and brought everyone together to work alongside our partners to save this elephant (pictured left). We originally received the call from Oloisukut rangers that they spotted a bull elephant with an injury on his front right leg. MEP then deployed the “Alpha” team stationed in Nyakweri to find the elephant and document his wounds so Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Vet Dr. Limo could be called. Once on the ground, they noted that he was limping and moving very slowly as he was crossing the Mara River.
Once down, Dr. Limo alongside his Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mara Mobile Vet Unit team members got to work and removed two arrow heads and treated one spear wound on the elephant (pictured below).
The MEP LTM team were on the ground to assist with the treatment alongside the “Alpha” ranger team. They noted that this bull elephant was identified as elephant ID 58 and was officially identified on April 22 and then photographed again on May 13 where one of his wounds was noted. This bull had clearly been in conflict with the nearby community bordering the conservancy and was shot with arrows while raiding farms. The treatment was successful and all of the elephant’s wounds were cleaned out, disinfected and patched up; it was truly a team effort (pictured below).
Crops are ripe in the Maasai Mara, and MEP rangers were busy in June responding to conflict in our areas of operation. On June 1, there was maize damage reported to MEP in the Transmara area (pictured left). That same day, the MEP “Alpha” ranger unit was meeting with farmers in the Enkutoto area, who had hungry elephants crossing the Mara River and raiding their maize. The team was sent to investigate crop damage from the night before and speak with the farmers to calm rising tensions between elephants and the community. Then, the next day on June 2, both MEP mobile teams in different areas responded to conflict. One team while patrolling the Noobokishi area found a group of elephants that had knocked down a fence to crop raid earlier that morning. That night, a fourth MEP ranger unit chased away a herd of 20 elephants using the cover of night to crop raid maize farms (pictured below).
In total, in June there were two bushmeat poaching suspects arrested alongside government partners and 92 snares removed and 10 kg of bushmeat recovered. MEP rangers were also busy with shutting down illegal charcoal operations by confiscating charcoal sacks, destroying kilns and arresting suspects alongside our government partners. In total, in June, 21 habitat destruction suspects were arrested alongside government partners, two power saws recovered, 12 kilns and 33 bags of charcoal destroyed, and 461 posts and six timbers recovered.
A charcoal arrest inside the Mau Forest in early June.
MEP Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall’s paper on Pan-African elephant range was recently featured in Mongabay online and Natural History magazine and was also reviewed as part of Dispatch published in Current Biology by Peter Leimgruber. Additionally, a paper Dr. Wall co-authored on the ElephantBook system being used by MEP’s LTM team has now been published as part of the ACM Compass Conference Proceedings. The MEP LTM team is making great progress using the ElephantBook platform and they have identified 225 individuals across 350 recorded sightings since February. The team monitored Fred on June 17 after his collar was showing that he was moving at a low speed. When they arrived, they found him in good health and just slowly browsing along the Mara River (pictured below).
The MEP LTM team member Vincent monitored collared elephant Kegol on June 13 and found him alongside a previously identified individual Flopsy. They were both in Mara North Conservancy (MNC) and appeared in good health (pictured left).
The MEP Research Department’s fence mapping team continues to chart the expansion of fences across the Mara, and they added another 298 kms of fences to our Landscape Dynamics database. MEP has now mapped nearly 4,000 km of fencing across the Mara.
MEP kicked off June by celebrating Madaraka Day in Kenya. MEP has over 70 Kenyan team members that celebrated in the Maasai Mara and Nairobi. Later that week, we celebrated World Environment Day and Diamond Trust Bank posted about MEP’s work to show their support, thank you. The MEP LTM team participated in a trash clean up around a nearby community on World Environment Day (pictured left). We also participated in the inaugural World Female Ranger Day and highlighted MEP’s four female rangers: Caren, Fancy, Gloria and Purity. Governor’s Camp Collection posted about our female rangers as well in support, thank you. Angama Foundation and MEP posted a blog featuring collared elephant Fitz and the important work being done to protect him, his herd and their habitat. Photojournalist David Chancellor included MEP in his recent National Geographic piece and MEP was mentioned in a China Daily article in June.
We had three people celebrating a birthday by raising money for MEP on Facebook. Thank you to Rick, Shaundra and Kajal for supporting us in June. MEP has been receiving amazing donations from supporters through our Amazon Wish List. In June alone, we received boots, socks, LifeStraws and backpacks for rangers and a medical kit for a ranger team. We also received four books for the research department. Each item essential to ranger’s success while protecting elephants. Thank you to all of the donors who have given through this list. We hosted kids from a nearby school program on campus who joined Wilson to learn more about MEP and conservation issues in the area (pictured right). Finally, MEP had 19 entries in the Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition. Thank you to all of the photographers for supporting us.
On June 13, MEP Trustees Kevin Rodrigues, Trey Fehsenfeld and Beatrice Karanja joined other core staff members (pictured left) on MEP’s campus to meet in person and receive recent updates on MEP’s ranger operations and research. It was exciting as almost the whole core team was able to gather for the first time since the pandemic in the Maasai Mara.
Finally, most of the Mara based MEP staff received their second dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccination on June 28. It’s a relief to know that everyone is protected against the virus (pictured below).