The great annual migration of wildebeest and zebra started this month, and the spectacular event is being shared with tourists from around the world. This time last year Kenya was still in lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a much-needed foreign income generator for Kenya and the Mara.
An entry from the July Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition by Vijay Harinathan.
The MEP intelligence unit alongside Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was involved in a sting operation that resulted in the arrest of two suspects and seizure of 15.8 kg of ivory. On July 26, in the Mabera area, near the Tanzania border the joint team arrested two suspects along with the seized ivory.
On July 19, the MEP / Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mau De-Snaring Unit during their routine patrol of the Mau Forest discovered a temporary camp inside the forest. They arrested two suspects that were illegally logging and making charcoal. In addition, their camp contained 10 snares intended for bushmeat poaching as well as spears and axes. Just a few days after this bust, this team also confiscated 22 snares from the Mau Forest in the Kericho area.
In total, in July, MEP rangers alongside government partners arrested two bushmeat poaching suspects, confiscated 2 kg of bushmeat and removed 34 snares. They also arrested 11 habitat destruction suspects, recovered one power saw, destroyed 18 kilns and confiscated 14 charcoal sacks, 598 posts and 375 pieces of timber.
Elephants residing in the Mau Forest were recently crop raiding potato farms bordering the forest. A herd of 50, which included the formerly collared elephant Max, were raiding nearby potato farms and the MEP leased helicopter was called in on July 16 to push this herd back into the forest and calm the frustrated community. While on the ground, CEO Marc Goss spoke directly with community members and re-directed one of the SWT Mau De-Snaring Units to the area to provide more protection for their crops. After leaving the conflict area, Marc and a KWS officer patrolled the forest from the air and found fresh logging inside the forest. They followed the trail out of the forest and spotted 13 donkeys taking out timber beams. They landed and relieved the donkeys of their loads and contacted a ground team to follow up with the recovery.
There were six total conflict incidents mitigated in July.
The MEP Research Department received another grant from the Esri Conservation Programme for ArcGIS Online and desktop software. We really appreciate the support MEP has received from Esri to date. In July, MEP’s fence team logged another 256 km of fencing, 63 km of which are now de-fenced areas. MEP’s long-term monitoring (LTM) team is using ElephantBook to catalogue the 2,500 elephants that inhabit the Mara. So far, they’ve recorded 250 individuals across 410 sightings within Mara North, Lemek and Naibosho conservancies. A conference paper was also published, ElephantBook: A Semi-Automated Human-in-the-Loop System for Elephant Re-Identification, about the ElephantBook platform.
The Mara Elephant Project LTM team along with Conservation Officer Wilson Sairowua spotted collared elephant Kiambi on July 10 in Olkinyei Conservancy while out monitoring elephants in the field.
Fred was spotted on July 7 by a MEP ranger unit while on patrol. Then, later in the month, on July 13, collared elephant Kegol was monitored grazing peacefully inside a conservancy.
The 2020 Annual Report was released on July 9 highlighting MEP’s work last year. We celebrated World Ranger Dayand appreciated everyone’s support for our rangers. We received more items from our Amazon Wish List in support of MEP’s rangers and research department. Thank you to all of the donors who sent essentials. We had 21 entries in the Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition. Thank you to all of the photographers for supporting MEP.
Finally, we wanted to end this month with an update. In November 2017, Seema was thrown by an elephant while out tending to her family’s cattle; she was only 6 years old at the time. MEP rangers were first on the scene to administer first aid and move the herd of elephants away from the community. The MEP leased helicopter was called in to airlift Seema to Tenwek Hospital where she made a full recovery. MEP also started paying for her school fees at boarding school as well as her books and uniform to ensure Seema is fully stocked for school every year. Wilson goes back regularly to see Seema at the start of every school year to give her updates on MEP rangers that helped save her. Seema is excited to be back at school in 2021 after such a tough year last year.