Mara Elephant Project X Folklife Festival

Kenyans Protecting Wildlife and Wild Spaces is Ingrained into their Cultural Heritage

Last year, Mara Elephant Project (MEP) celebrated a decade of protecting elephants and their habitats across the Greater Mara Ecosystem (GME). The GME, an extension of the vast Serengeti ecosystem, is Kenya’s most important wildlife area and tourism asset. The Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem is one of the last major wildlife refuges on Earth. Most famous for its annual migration of nearly two million wildebeest and zebra, the ecosystem is also home to an estimated 40% of Africa’s large mammals. Historically, people and wildlife peacefully co-existed when space for both did not overlap; however, as the human footprint has expanded, so has livestock and farming, pushing wild animals into smaller spaces. Elephants are a keystone species to this ecosystem and when poaching emerged as the number one threat in 2012 (96 elephants that year alone were killed for their ivory) MEP took action to successfully combat this global threat.

William Fortescue Photography
Today, the drastic expansion of the human footprint in the region is causing devastating loss of habitat, which means MEP must expand its mission and goals to save the Mara’s wildlife and wild spaces.

MEP’s vision is to see a stable and healthy elephant population co-existing peacefully with people across the GME. MEP educates and employs Kenyan rangers and researchers who are informed and engaged environmental stewards. We invest in the future conservationists who are going to combat climate change by protecting wildlife, wild spaces and engaging communities to promote co-existence.

Earth Optimism X Folklife Festival, Inspiring Conservation Communities

Five years ago, the Smithsonian convened the first-ever global Earth Optimism Summit as a counterweight to what seemed like overwhelmingly bad news about species and ecosystem decline and climate catastrophe. Their hope is to shine a light on all the things that were working in conservation and to inspire people to persevere and find a way forward, rather than to simply give in.

Mara Elephant Project is honored to be participating in our first ever Folklife Festival to show our optimism for the future of elephants and their habitats in the Greater Mara Ecosystem in Kenya. When we started, poaching was at its height and now, we are seeing the lowest numbers recorded since starting operations. To counter that, we’re seeing high levels of habitat destruction, conflict related elephant injuries and bushmeat poaching due to the economic effects of the pandemic on communities.

Chags Photography
We are growing and adapting to face these new challenges.

We are now protecting and studying key forested areas in the GME that are crucial to saving the ecosystem. Our Research Department has launched a long-term monitoring (LTM) team, MEP’s EarthRanger system, mapped fences and is now producing cutting edge outputs that actually show the land use change happening in the Mara.

Chags Photography
As an organization, we have adapted, we’ve persevered and we’ve been investing in young Kenyans to find solutions that protects their national heritage.

I am lucky to call this part of the world my home and I am proud to be doing my part to protect Kenyan wildlife and wild spaces for future generation.

Conservation Officer Wilson Sairowua

Tracy Miller Photography

Hopefully you enjoyed your visit with Mara Elephant Project Conservation Officer Wilson Sairowua today at the Folklife Festival. If you’re interested in learning more about Mara Elephant Project, sign up to be contacted about events and news in the future.


In 2022, you can help MEP grow to expand the last decade of impact.

The Sidekick Foundation, Inc. DBA Mara Elephant Project USA is a 501(c)(3) registered charity, tax identification number 45-3996413.