On Tuesday, November 28, otherwise known as #GivingTuesday, the world takes a collective breath before the holidays and seeks out those organizations deserving of their charitable giving during the holidays. In a season that’s increasingly become very “me” oriented, people reach outside of themselves and see the real impact their dollars can make in this world.
To celebrate #GivingTuesday in Kenya, Canada and the U.S.A. Mara Elephant Project is highlighting three organizations that have partnered with us to make that impact.
A partnership between The Maa Trust and Mara Elephant Project highlights the importance of developing key partners in the Mara and how interconnected human and animal life is in wild places.
The Maa Trust is a non-profit organization based in community-owned conservancies in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. They work to increase the benefits of wildlife and conservation to Maasai families so that they appreciate, and contribute to the protection of, wild animals on their land. That is why MEP is the perfect partner for The Maa Trust because our mission is to protect elephants to conserve the greater Mara ecosystem. We are two sides to the same coin.
As MEP addresses poaching and increased human-elephant conflict, The Maa Trust plans to influence the community’s attitude toward wildlife by developing projects which we tie directly to harmoniously living with wildlife and the benefits that accrue to the local community as a result of the wildlife and associated tourism.
Projects like Maa Beadwork and Maa Honey empower local people by promoting small business startups & micro finance schemes, enabling them to make their own money and to invest in their family’s development. Despite a severe lack of education granted to girl children in previous years, female beadwork and honey members are now affording and investing in clean drinking water for their homes, solar power, alternative fuel to firewood, and they can now send more of their children to school.
Both MEP and The Maa Trust believe that education is a key to the success of the Mara conservancies and to the survival of this world-famous ecosystem. The Maa Trust often coordinates educational trips for the children to visit MEP HQ and learn about conservation. Coming to tour MEP HQ is the perfect opportunity to show these children MEP rangers are considered pillars in the community and that jobs in conservation are regarded with great esteem and should be considered for their future. Dr. Crystal Mogensen, C.E.O. of The Maa Trust, said activities like these help these children with career guidance by opening their eyes beyond traditional jobs. Like The Maa Trust, MEP believes that children are the future custodians of our ecosystem and experiences like the one these children from The Maa Trust got at MEP, will help usher them into important roles in sustaining the future of Kenya’s wildlife.
The Maa Trust’s motto is “Emaendaleo tenkaraki ing’uesi” meaning “development because of the wildlife.” All of the community projects are happening because of the wildlife that Maasai families coexist with and organizations like Mara Elephant Project are protecting.
A partnership between Elephanatics and the Mara Elephant Project highlights the true global nature of elephant protection and ecosystem conservation. Our aligning missions couldn’t be more indicative of this partnership, MEP’s mission is to protect elephants to conserve the greater Mara ecosystem in Kenya and Elephanatics’ mission is to assist global elephant conservation efforts by educating Canadians about issues of ivory poaching and habitat loss by connecting Canadians directly with elephant conservation partners in Africa.
Elephanatics focuses on three pillars of advocacy: conservation, education and action. These three keys to their success are what made them such an attractive partner for MEP. Our approach to protecting elephants is three pronged: elephant collaring, monitoring and research; anti-poaching patrols and rapid response units; and human-elephant conflict mitigation, which includes community engagement and education amongst other innovative techniques and technologies.
We love that Elephanatics also refers to itself as a “boots on the ground organization.” While they are out raising awareness and garnering support at the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, MEP is deploying rangers on the ground to mitigate human-elephant conflict. We are truly two organizations working on a parallel path.
The MEP connection comes from Dr. Jake Wall, the co-founder and chief scientific researcher of Elephanatics. Dr. Wall and MEP worked together in 2016 on his GPS tracking system with advanced mapping technology algorithms that can detect anomalies in a single elephant’s movements. MEP uses Dr. Wall’s tracking system on their 23 collared elephants to detect poaching or injury in an elephant’s movements.
MEP is committed to aligning ourselves with other organizations that hold the same philosophies and values as we do and we feel Elephanatic’s work could not reflect any better our commitment to raise money and awareness.
Expert Drones has partnered with MEP and has committed to putting drone technology to innovative uses in the fight to conserve African elephants. Our mission is to protect elephants to conserve the greater Mara ecosystem, which is quite an undertaking with the latest statistics that suggest if poaching levels remain unchecked in the Mara ecosystem, elephants would cease to exist by 2030. In order to combat poaching and human-elephant conflict as a result of diminishing space in the Mara, MEP has had to be on the cutting edge of the latest techniques and technologies and Expert Drones is contributing to this!
One such technology MEP has been on the forefront of using is drones. Drones are a cheap and effective technology for MEP rangers to use when they are operating in the field. They are portable, easy to use and are fast becoming the first tactic rangers use to move elephants out of unwanted areas like farms. MEP has been developing their drone project since September 2012 when C.E.O. Marc Goss bought a simple Parrot AR drone to test in the Mara. What they discovered was that when you flew a drone toward some elephants the effect was startling; the whole herd bunched up and ran away from the noise, which sounds a lot like a swarm of bees.
“WHAT WE FIND IS THAT DRONES FOR MITIGATING HUMAN-ELEPHANT CONFLICT ARE VERY USEFUL. THEY ARE VERY EASY TO FLY SO RANGERS CAN FLY THEM. WHEN YOU’RE HERDING ELEPHANTS THAT’S PARAMOUNT TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE IN CONTROL OF THE SITUATION.” Marc Goss, C.E.O., Mara Elephant Project
Lucky for MEP at the time, the drone technology was improving fast and field use became a reality. MEP started a training program for rangers to safely mitigate human-elephant conflict both day and night using drones. Once Expert Drones heard about MEP we knew that we had to get involved with this cutting-edge technique. To date, Expert Drones has given MEP funding to help increase their drone program and insure that every ranger team has a drone to use. We are also in talks to create a drone training program in Kenya for other conservation organizations to use.
“I FELT IT IMPORTANT TO DONATE TO MEP BECAUSE MEP IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF ANTI-POACHING INITIATIVES THAT ARE NEAR TO MY HEART. IT’S IMPORTANT THAT GROUPS LIKE THEM RECEIVE BOTH THE MONEY AND EQUIPMENT TO FIGHT THE ILLICIT WILDLIFE TRADE INDUSTRY. IT’S GETTING OUT OF HAND AND WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.” Brett Velicovich, C.E.O., Expert Drones
MEP is proud to have a partner like Expert Drones so together we can ensure the protection of elephants to secure a viable and sustainable population in the Mara ecosystem that will serve as a keystone species for generations to come.