Mara Elephant Project wanted to update you on a story that was near and dear to my heart. In early November 2017, MEP received a call that a 6-year-old girl, Seema, was thrown onto sharp rocks by an elephant while out tending to her family’s cattle. There was a herd of five elephants in the area and unfortunately, they crossed paths with this little girl and her cattle.
When MEP received the call, rangers rushed to the girl’s location in Olkinyei and were first on the scene to administer first aid and move the herd of elephants away from the scene. They recognized that the girl’s injuries needed more serious medical attention and called in MEP C.E.O. Marc Goss. He deployed the Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari helicopter to transport the child to Tenwek Hospital, a hospital MEP had taken several other patients to in the past. Marc flew the little girl and her two guardians to Tenwek and left her in the care of the doctors where she went on to make a full recovery. A generous MEP donor contributed the $300 to cover the cost of the girl’s medical care.
While we’re committed to protecting elephants, one key component to be successful with this mission is to also protect the people that live alongside the elephants. This is why MEP rangers are all equipped with medical training and a First Responder Medical Kit, so they have all of the tools to be the first to administer first aid in the event of an injury.
While MEP rangers were the first responders, we also needed to complete this mission by addressing the elephant and herd that were entering this community. So, in response to this human-elephant conflict incident, MEP collared and treated the large bull, Lempiris, we believed was involved with the little girl’s injuries. Recently, Lempiris is often found around Olarro Conservancy and is monitored closely by MEP rangers and myself using the Save The Elephants (STE) app. Pictured left is Kenya Wildlife Service vet Dr. Limo with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mara Mobile Vet Unit treating Lempiris.
The collaring operation for Lempiris.
After the little girl was home and recovered, I stayed in touch with her mom and dad to get updates on her. I also started giving a percentage of my MEP salary to pay for her school fees at boarding school as well as her books and uniform. Now, a year later, I went to go visit Seema at Kishermoruak Primary School and was delighted to see that she is a happy healthy little girl. She is doing well in school where her favorite subjects are art and language. I was also surprised to find that she asked me how Lempiris was doing. I was able to show her his movements on the STE app and she was happy to see that now we can monitor him and let her know whenever he is around. She did want me to make sure that he was not killed but saved (pictured left: I’m showing her the app on my phone).
My involvement with Seema has been a big blessing in both her life and mine; one that I wanted to share with my fellow MEP rangers. I truly believe that actions like this will reduce conflict in the area because the community saw my direct involvement with Sheema’s well-being and it helped influence their attitudes toward elephants in the area. By helping her, I was able to also spare the lives of many other innocent elephants.
Me visiting Sheema.
After sharing my experience with the MEP staff on September 1, it was agreed that any MEP ranger who would also like to volunteer a percentage of their salary to pay for school fees, books and uniforms of children living in areas most affected by human-elephant conflict, could do so. I’m so proud to see that my actions have inspired others to get involved and protect our future conservationists.