Celebrating the Protection of One of Earth’s Greatest Species in MEP’s April Report

In early April, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) arrested two suspects in possession of two elephant tusks weighing 40 kg based on MEP intelligence. The KWS and MEP intel teams joined forces on this bust, and the suspects transporting the ivory via motorbike were evasive. Nevertheless, the joint team was successful, and this ivory didn’t leave Kenyan shores.

In April, we partnered with KWS and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mobile Vet Unit for a total of four elephant treatments. On April 21, the MEP mobile ranger team was deployed to the field to visually monitor collared elephant Polaris because of a low-speed alert we received. When they found him, they discovered a suspected spear wound on his back that was most likely causing him pain and slowing his movements. We immediately called in our partners to treat the bull, and his healing process was closely monitored by MEP rangers. The next day, collared elephant Kiambi also received treatment for suspected spear wounds and is being closely monitored as he heals. Earlier in the month, the MEP mobile team joined partners to assist in the treatment of a bull elephant that had an advanced leg infection, and another checkup treatment took place for a female previously treated in March.

In April, the MEP / SWT Mau De-Snaring Units deployed in the forest continued their efforts to deter illegal habitat destruction activities, increase protection for the wildlife that call it home and communities living nearby. The “Alpha” and “Charlie” ranger teams alongside Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and KWS removed snares, arrested illegal loggers and charcoal producers, confiscated illegal materials and destroyed kilns.

MEP community rangers continued their conflict mitigation efforts in April. The “Foxtrot” ranger team got reports of elephants invading farms and breaking fences. They rapidly responded and moved the elephants away from the farms and back into nearby conservancies.

The MEP helicopter responded a conflict incident in April involving MEP identified individual 1, affectionately known as “Edwin”. He had broken through a fence and entered a farm. The large bull was causing destruction and a rapid response was needed to mitigate the escalating situation. We deployed the MEP helicopter and CEO Marc Goss successfully moved Edwin out of the farm and ushered him to safety.

Overall, in April, MEP rangers removed 33 snares, and alongside government partners arrested one poaching suspect and confiscated 5 kg of bushmeat. There were nine habitat destruction suspects arrested and 28 kilns and nine charcoal sacks destroyed. They also confiscated 61 posts, 205 pieces of timber and mitigated six conflict incidents. In April, MEP rangers covered a distance of 1935.39 km on foot and patrolled 17,336.46 km by car in the GME.

MEP ranger’s elephant monitoring efforts continued in April and the MEP long-term monitoring (LTM) team worked in the Maasai Mara National Reserve monitoring elephants to continue their individual identification work. They also continued their monitoring efforts closer to headquarters in Lemek. Additionally, teams monitored collared elephants Fred, Polaris, Fitz and Ivy in the field.

In April, we have started to use a fixed-wing aircraft to perform some of the systematic monitoring of elephants and habitat. On April 29, Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall did a long patrol to the Rift Valley to monitor collared elephants including Hannibal, Clara, Natasha, Audrey, Indy, Isiah, and Gwen.

The rainfall this month started at the end of the month, and the Mara River, which runs along the MEP Co-Existence Farm, gave us a scare as it continued to rise. Given the rainfall, the major activity was weeding the farm, but the team worked hard and maintained a clean farm. There were very few re-planting activities and low predation since the rainfall ensured there was plenty of long green grass availability for the predators like hippos.

The farm hosted 45 women for the first ever kitchen garden training. They were given vegetable seeds from the MEP nursery and best practices were demonstrated. The women asked a lot of questions and were able to understand the importance of the farm to conservation and the community.

Mara Elephant Project was joined by the community on Earth Day to clean up the Aitong town center. MEP researchers, rangers and support staff all showed their commitment to the planet and were joined by over 20 people from the community, mostly children, to collect the trash, sort it and recycle as much as possible.

In April, we had the pleasure of hosting the team from Elephant Cooperation at our headquarters. They have been supporting MEP since 2019 and most recently supported the drone training of MEP rangers and researchers to mitigate conflict and collect data. We’re grateful for their continued support. Thank you to everyone who supported MEP in April. Additional thanks to all of the photographers who supported MEP in the Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition in April.
An April entry from Kim Norris.
MEP Monthly Report April 2023