Mara Elephant Project has been busy in April and May. Here are some highlight from the MEP Report April and May 2017 and the Helicopter Report May 2017 highlighting MEP’s progress over the last few months.
Lemek Conservancy, where MEP HQ is located, became a popular spot for cattle herders in April due to the dry conditions elsewhere. We expect them to leave as the beginning of the great migration starts in the middle of June.
Over the last two months we have had three elephants to report decreased and two arrests for bush meat. We have responded to 43 human-elephant conflict events in April and May, which is an increase from just nine in the last reporting period.
The two dead elephants from Magadi/Shompole area.
The Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari helicopter continues to be an essential asset to MEP’s human-elephant conflict mitigation toolkit. The increase of human-elephant conflict in the area in the last two months has meant more flying time for the helicopter and it’s essential that we continue to raise funds for flying time. We were fortune to have a large donation come in recently that covers two months of flying time, but more is always needed!
The crowd gathers around the helicopter while it’s being refueled during an operation to move a stranded bull from community areas on May 29.
MEP picked up our new Land Rover thanks to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and immediately put it to good use in the Munyas area, which has been experiencing high levels of human-elephant conflict because large herds have been staging in the Enongishu Conservancy during the day and moving into farms at night. The new Land Rover helped furnish the chili fence building team and has been helping rangers respond to conflict almost daily. In May we erected seven kilometers of a chili fence in the Munyas area and trained 160 community members on how to maintain this effect elephant-proof tool.
Community chili fence training.
Another active human-elephant conflict area is the Olosukut Forest near Kirindon, where elephants are staging in the forest during the day and raiding the crops at night. We have four of our collared elephants actively doing this in May.
A recent crop raiding elephant.
We are thrilled that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are starting to be licensed in Kenya. MEP’s goal for the next few months is to focus on getting approval to deploy them with our ranger units and possibly host a demonstration at MEP HQ. UAVs are a cost effective, portable and easy-to-use way to move elephants out of farmland and with HEC on the rise due to the area drying up and crops ripening, we believe being able to deploy them will be a great asset to our rangers in the field.
On May 25 MEP re-collared Mytene, whose collar needed a new battery. We were able to invite Karsten Ree along, who generously loans MEP the use of our helicopter. The operation went perfectly and Mytene was found with a large herd of females that we believe he was pursuing for mating purposes. Additionally, we received an immobility report from Shorty’s collar and immediately responded to find that the collar had slipped to one side.
Karsten Ree with Mytene.
MEP is excited about a potential new partnership with Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) to collar an additional 10 elephants on the western border of the Serengeti. We have also had a productive management plan meeting with representatives from Lemek Conservancy to continue joint security patrols and human-elephant conflict mitigation work. Our goal is to respond to the increased conflict in southern Tanzania by partnering more closely with the Mara Conservancy.
In April and May we’ve collected over $19,400 from individual donors going toward a new collared elephant in Loita, helicopter flying hours and more. Additionally, we have several proposals that were submitted for funding and some grant funding that has come through from World Wildlife Fund Kenya and For Rangers.
MEP now has a pamphlet (MEP Pamphlet) that we’ve spent the last two months working on getting into lodges in the Mara. This pamphlet informs people about MEP’s work and appeals for donations. We also held a supporter engagement event in late April that was attended by key stakeholders in Kenya. We continue to communicate with these attendees and pursue new partnerships.
MEP Event at Tribe Hotel.
Community engagement over the last two months included hosting children from The MAA Trust for a conservation education seminar at MEP HQ and we planted 100 seedlings for a sustainable woodlot at Ngoswani School.
We are pleased to announce that ranger Ibrahim Funan was voted Ranger of the Quarter, John LeShan was put in charge of the chili fence team, Dickson Njapit was promoted from corporal to sergeant and David Tobiko was promoted from private to corporal.
CEO Marc Goss presenting Ibrahim Funan with Ranger of the Quarter.