In February, the Mara has seen an abnormal amount of rain for a normally very dry time of the year. The Mara is very green, and the wildlife is enjoying the unexpected extra rain. pictured left: collared elephant Ivy and her calf clearly enjoyed the rain.
We started the first week of February off with an arrest on the 7thof three suspects by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) near Nairobi with 12 kg of ivory all made possible by MEP intelligence. TANAPA also following MEP intelligence arrested one suspect with an illegal firearm which was suspected to be used to poach wildlife in the Serengeti.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mau De-Snaring Unit continues to remove snares used for bushmeat poaching in the Mau Forest. Recently, there has also been an increase in drop spears targeting elephants that have been found and removed as well as small traps created for birds. pictured left: One of three drop spears recovered on Feb. 6 in the Mau Forest that are used for targeting elephants.
MEP rangers were busy mitigating human-elephant conflict in February especially in the Lemek area. There were two elephant treatments in February, one incident where MEP’s patrol team assisted in a treatment performed by KWS Vet Dr. Limo with the SWT Mara Mobile Vet Unit. It was an elephant with a foot injury that was sustained after breaking through fences in the Endoinyio Erinka area. We’re happy to report the treatment went well and the Pardamat Conservancy rangers continued to monitor this elephant after the treatment, and it was healing well.
Dr. Limo working on the injured elephant on Feb. 19.
It was a busy month at for the MEP research team who hosted several key partners at MEP HQ. First, Dr. Michelle Henley, the founder of Elephants Alive, at the beginning of the month. She has over twenty years’ experience tracking elephants with satellite collars and has done a great deal of research on elephant foraging dynamics. During the three day visit we learned a lot from Michelle’s expertise after she presented her research and gave a field demonstration of her long-term individual identification data collection procedures. MEP is hoping to form a scientific partnership with Elephants Alive and collaborate on a number of topics.
Dr. Michelle presenting to key MEP staff during her visit.
At the end of the month, the MEP research team hosted two staff members from Save the Elephants in Sambru (Benjamin Loloju & Nelson Mwangi) and Anka Bedetti from Elephants Alive South Africa for a three-day course on advanced geodata analysis using the python programming language. The material was a small part of a larger course on geodata science that Dr. Jake Wall is developing in hopes of offering it more widely in the future.
In February, there was the exciting launch by Reuters and Narok County Government of a five-part online series about the Maasai Mara, Kenya. In the Meet the Experts section, MEP CEO Marc Goss is featured talking about the importance of protecting elephants to conserving the great Mara ecosystem. In the Conflict section, MEP Tracking manager Wilson Sairowua, in featured talking about his experience of growing up in the Mara and the role of MEP and its rangers. In February, MEP Trustee Brian Kearney-Grieve and Communications Director Claire Bolles met with Tyler Davis and Steve Mitchell from Angama Foundation and we are delighted to announce that in 2019 they are supporting the protection of an elephant for three years in the Mara. Additionally, the Greatest Maasai Mara photography competition continues to be an excellent source of exposure and fundraising for MEP. In February, Adam Bannister from Angama Foundation, released a two-part video introduction of MEP featuring Wilson Sairowua that highlights why it’s important to support the conservation organizations in this competition. The entries for February were simply amazing and we thank Angama, Adam and every person who chose MEP as a beneficiary.
A February photo entry benefitting MEP from Romit Shah.
We received $72,800 from individual donors in February. These funds will assist MEP in establishing a new dedicated ranger team in the Loita Forest and towards securing a new helicopter. There were two Facebook fundraisers during the month of February, thank you to Agnes and Ana for raising over $169 for MEP on Facebook! MEP received $1,430 in donations from individuals through PayPal. We thank you and all our other donors for their generous support of our work.
In February, we were excited to announce that the Indianapolis Zoo supported MEP with a grant for the two-year protection of an elephant in the Mau Forest. We are thrilled to announce this partnership in 2019 and believe that when a boots on the ground conservation organization is working with a funder who believes in the same mission, an impact can be made to all wildlife and the wild places they call home. For the second year in a row, MEP presented at Crooked Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis, IN, USA as their Global Marketplace will again support MEP. We were also happy to participate in the kick off of Twende Porini or ‘Let’s Go Wild,’ Asilia Africa’s flagship yearly environmental and community program in the Mara where a group of children from local communities in the Mara area surrounding Asilia’s camps are selected to participate in a four-day conservation camp at one of their properties. On February 25, MEP Administrator Elvis Saaytoi along with Communications Director Claire Bolles visited Rekero Primary School to judge the three performance pieces, one from the elephant group, lion group and cheetah group and select the four children, two boys and two girls, that will participate in Twende Porini.
The Rekero Primary School group with the judging panel for Twende Porini.
On January 26, His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj, the spiritual leader of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, a worldwide center for spiritual, cultural and social welfare visited MEP HQ. A member of His Divine Holiness team presented a donation of over $1,000 to MEP in February and we thank them for always being a supporter of MEP every year.
Finally, on the last day of February, it was announced that MEP’s very own Trustee Beatrice Karanja was appointed to the judging panel of the annual TUSK Conservation Awards. This is a very prestigious appointment and we congratulate her on this amazing acknowledgment of her over 20 years of service in conservation.