December was a busy time at Mara Elephant Project, and as we close out another year of operation, our 10th, we continue with our mission of protecting elephants and their habitats across the Greater Mara Ecosystem. In December, MEP rangers alongside government partners arrested five habitat destruction suspects, recovered one power saw, 670 timbers and destroyed eight kilns and two sacks of charcoal.
Rangers alongside government partners also arrested two bushmeat suspects, recovered 7 kg of bushmeat and removed 12 snares.
On December 3, a young elephant calf was found by Maasai Mara National Reserve rangers alone. MEP’s leased helicopter was immediately called in to airlift the baby to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) orphanage in Nairobi. Alongside Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Vet Dr. Limo from the SWT Mara Mobile Vet Unit, we escorted her to the orphanage in the helicopter. While rare to have a baby elephant passenger in the helicopter, we are always thankful when we can rapidly respond to an elephant calf in distress.
On December 7, KWS and MEP re-collared Fitz in the Nyakweri Forest alongside the KWS Mara Vet Unit led by Dr. Limo. The MEP leased helicopter was essential to this successful operation, helping push Fitz out of the dense forest and into a clearing where he could be safely re-collared. Fitz and his herd’s protection is once again supported by the Angama Foundation, who understand the importance of protecting him, his family and his home.
The second annual Ultra MARAthon was a huge success on December 4 with 54 relay teams participating this year. The 50 km race through the Maasai Mara raises funds for Mara Conservancy rangers and the Africa Mission Services maternity clinic. MEP’s ranger relay team won their division for the second year in a row. Congratulations to MEP rangers Stanley Momposhi, Nashola Karia, Cosmus Bett and Edward Kuyo for officially being the fastest rangers in the Mara. Additionally, MEP provided security in the air and on the ground along the running route. It was a beautiful day to run in the Mara and we congratulate all of the runners and organizers of this amazing event.
On December 1, The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year was crowned for 2021. Sponsored by the Angama Foundation, this competition invites wildlife photographers from all over the world to submit their best shots from the Maasai Mara and support their favorite conservation organization with the entry fee. Mara Elephant Project had 225 entries this year in support of our efforts and of those, 13 were finalists today out of 50 total. Congratulations are in order for photographer Harry Collins with his shot “Once in a Lifetime” for winning the grand prize of $10,000 and a 5-night stay at Angama Mara. Harry’s guide Jimmy from Wild Eye Mara Camp also won a trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa. Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to every single photographer who submitted to support MEP in 2021. Your entry fees alongside Angama Foundation’s support donated $3,021 to MEP operations. If you like what you see, you can buy a print to support conservation here.
The SAWA Shop is a loyal supporter of MEP, giving back 5% of yearly sales to elephant conservation. This brand of travel bags and accessories is made to order in Kenya and features anything you’d need for life’s journey. Thank you to SAWA for supporting MEP in 2021.
MEP and international NGO How Many Elephants are excited to announce that the first-ever recipient of their World Female Ranger Award has been given to Caren Yegon Cheptoo, a MEP ranger deployed with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mau De-Snaring Unit. Tasked with protecting the vitally important Mau Forest in the Greater Mara Ecosystem, Caren and her ranger team combat habitat destruction, poaching and conflict in their area of patrol. How Many Elephants wants to shine a light on female rangers work in the field, and MEP is extremely honored that Caren is the inaugural recipient. Caren alongside the entire MEP ranger team all received an end-of-year bonus for this accolade. Thank you to How Many Elephants for acknowledging our ranger’s important work.
We got to end the year with an exciting new scholarship fund starting in 2022 funded by Fran and Lorne Duthie. The Fran Duthie African Conservation Scholarship will be open to Kenyan applicants in March 2022. Stay tuned for more details. Fran and Lorne gave an initial installment of $8,500 to launch this scholarship. We also received a $20,000 from Google to support MEP’s Research Department. Thank you to everyone who supported MEP during giving season. We were blown away by your support. We wish you all a very Happy New Year!