In December, Mara Elephant Project hosted our year-end celebration lunch for staff. During the lunch, Conservation Officer Wilson Sairowua gave a presentation highlighting the team’s achievements in 2022, followed by a note of thanks for all the hard work by MEP staff in 2022 by DRC Jake Wall and concluded by CEO Marc Goss who announced promotions and presented badges of rank with MEP Chairwoman Beatrice Karanja. Bea, as our guest, concluded the ceremony with an uplifting speech that encouraged all of the men and women to continue on with their important work into 2023 and emphasized how she and her fellow trustees were right behind them supporting their efforts.
While the end of the year is a time of celebration, it is also a time of reflection. We did that recently as a team and it was next level inspiring. Join me as we celebrate and thank the MEP team for all that they are and do. Our Heroes. Our Wildlife protectors. Our Community Ambassadors.Beatrice Karanja
On Saturday, December 10, the 3rd annual Ultra MARAthon took place in the Maasai Mara. Over 230 runners including 65 relay teams ran alongside wildlife to support the efforts of Mara Elephant Project, Africa Mission Services and local conservancy rangers. MEP ranger Stanley Momposhi made us proud by bringing home the silver medal after running the entire 50 km (miles) course. MEP rangers alongside conservancy rangers provided security alongside CEO Marc Goss in the helicopter for an eye in the sky. Thank you to everyone who participated to support conservation and thank you to all of the tourist partners that provided logistical support and to all of the sponsors including Platcorp Foundation and Platinum Credit Kenya.
Mara Elephant Project rangers continued their efforts in December. Overall, in December, MEP rangers alongside government partners Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) arrested 35 habitat destruction suspects, confiscated 38 posts, 1,246 pieces of timber and destroyed 36 kilns and 54 sacks of charcoal. They arrested three bushmeat poaching suspects, removed 33 snares and confiscated 12 kg of bushmeat. There were 21 cases of conflict MEP rangers mitigated in December. MEP rangers patrolled a total distance of 1,293 km on foot and 16,400 km by car in the GME as well as 111.32 km on foot in Marmanet.
On December 30, The MEP / Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mau De-Snaring “Alpha” Unit arrested five suspects that had an active charcoal production operation inside the forest. Alongside the arrest with partners KFS, the team also destroyed five active kilns and confiscated five bags of charcoal. Also featured below, on December 2, the “Charlie” team removed 30 snares, a “Golf” team arrest on December 1 for transporting charcoal and on December 3, the same team arrested five suspects and confiscated 500 posts when they ambushed a lorry.
On December 24, the MEP “Golf” ranger unit alongside KWS arrested one suspect with 12 kg of zebra bushmeat. The MEP “Charlie” and “Golf” ranger teams on December 27 and 29, respectively, responded to two incidents of elephant’s crop raiding at night and leaving behind destruction once it’s light. They destroyed maize crops, cabbage, beans, spinach and bananas. After the incidents, they met with the community to discuss solutions to prevent any future damage. On December 1, rangers from the MEP “Alpha” team attended the funeral of a woman killed by an elephant during a conflict incident. The community support was encouraging as these men and women are dedicated to preventing the worst-case scenario, like this, from happening.
Monitoring elephants is a key task for MEP rangers. Here are some photos of the elephant sightings in December, all noted to be healthy and in protected areas.
On December 14, the MEP mobile ranger team responded to two collared elephants, Chelsea and Kiambi, and a herd of 37 inside fences in a community area. They successfully pushed the herd out of the community’s land and into the nearby safety of a conservancy. Also in December, the MEP “Golf” ranger unit monitored Fitz and his herd of 70 in the Nyakweri Forest.
Rangers from the MEP “Bravo” team joined the community for a Christmas day celebration. The team deployed in the Loita area works alongside the community to mitigate conflict and reduce deforestation. They are rangers recruited from the local community to protect them and the wildlife that share their home. We hope you too enjoyed a lovely Christmas with your community, and, as our Bravo team rangers said, “happily celebrated a Merry Christmas together”.
In December, a young man from Talek was injured by an elephant near the Maasai Mara National Reserve boundary. He was taken to the Talek Health Center, but his injuries were graver than originally believed and he needed immediate transfer to Tenwek hospital. The MEP helicopter piloted by Marc was called in to do a casualty evacuation to the hospital as his condition was unstable. We’re happy to report that he is well on his way to a full recovery and we’re thankful we had the use of the helicopter that made the rapid response possible.
On December 18, MEP responded to assist with an elephant treatment alongside many of our close conservation partners. We received a request for aerial assistance from the Mara Triangle when a bull elephant was monitored with two suspected spear wounds on two legs. We quickly mobilized the helicopter to move the elephant out of thick brush so our partner KWS Vet Dr. Poghon from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit could treat the bull. Helping on the ground were rangers from Mara Triangle and the Anne K. Taylor Fund. The vet treated the bull’s wounds and administered medication to speed up his recovery. He was back on his feet thanks to this Mara team effort.
In other partnership news, the monitoring framework team, which includes MEP, also compiled the results of the November workshop held in Narok and submitted an interim report to Malisili who is helping to fund development of the framework. The development of a monitoring framework for the Mara will help to connect data and analyses being conducted by a variety of organizations to managers and policy makers, making it easier to base decisions on sound science. The next workshop is set for Feb 7/8th in Narok.
The MEP Co-Existence Farm had some exciting new developments in December. The farm started a medicinal garden with over ten crops already planted. They also received apothecary heirloom seeds to cultivate in the garden with the focus on preserving the cultural knowledge of using indigenous herbs in the Mara for healing. Abigael Pertet who leads the project has also noted several crops that are seeing zero predation in 2022, lavender, citriodora, rosemary, tea tree, chili, geranium and onion. Soon a marketability study will launch to narrow down these promising findings more.
Finally, we wanted to end by highlighting the tremendous amount of support from partners and donors alike we received in December. On December 6, the winner of the 2022 Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition was announced during an awards ceremony. Congratulations to photographers Preeti and Prashant Chacko for their winning photograph “Hallelujah”. MEP is extremely grateful to all of the photographers that submitted 197 entries in 2022 to support us, see a recap video here. Overall, in 2022, there were over 1,000 entries from 300 photographers and $15,000 was raised for conservation, including a $3,443 donation to MEP directly. We are extremely grateful to be included in this competition every year and thank the Angama Foundation for their continued support of conservation.
An entry in 2022 from Jules Oldroyd Photography.
Kapoeta by Ambica, a luxury collection of handmade jewelry, is supporting MEP by donating 50% of the proceeds from her Conservation Capsule Collection. You can shop her jewelry on online or visit her on social media. MEP was a proud recipient of many donations, including from long-time support Elephanatics, in December dedicated to supporting the Fran Duthie African Elephant Conservation Scholarship Fund, which supports the development of the next generation of conservation leaders in Kenya by financially contributing toward their education in a conservation related field. Kampur Travel Diaries, a bespoke safari outfit, supports education, conservation, re-forestation and youth development in Kenya with a portion of profits from every safari. They supported the scholarship in December with a $1,000 donation and committed to a long-term partnership with MEP. We are extremely grateful to Kampur Travel Diaries for their support and look forward to partnering with them into the future.
We wanted to thank Madde Goss for working so hard on an amazing drawing of MEP rangers protecting elephants that we featured in our Merry Christmas message.
MEP is extremely proud to announce that we’ve received a World Female Ranger Week grant from How Many Elephants to support the training of female rangers in 2023. World Female Ranger Week was established to amplify the voices of female rangers around the world to support their work protecting wildlife, empowering women and uplifting communities. MEP ranger Caren was the first ever recipient of the World Female Ranger Award, and MEP is extremely grateful to How Many Elephants for this continued acknowledgement of our female ranger’s efforts to protect elephants and their habitats.
Finally, we can’t end December without thanking artist Leslie Cline and Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Leslie graciously donated her elephant artwork for our holiday note card promotion and Thanksgiving Coffee Company gave away free bags of Protect Our Elephants coffee to major donors. We’re so grateful for their support.
Mara Elephant Project received a tremendous amount of support during giving season, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you to every single donor, you make it all possible.