The rapid and global spread of the COVID-19 virus has brought with it challenging future implications for conservation, particularly elephant conservation in Kenya. Mara Elephant Project is deeply concerned about the long-term effects of the socio-economic downturn and what that means for the communities we work so closely with to protect Kenya’s iconic elephants and the GME. As a frontline conservation organization, MEP reacted in real-time to the rapidly changing environment as a result of COVID-19. Our teams and all of our partners on the ground should be commended for their active continued work within the restrictions they have to comply with. MEP remains steadfast in our support of the national and county government’s security and community support mechanisms throughout this crisis. Never in any of our lives have we dealt with anything like what is happening. Over and above our wildlife and habitat conservation work, MEP pledges that we will adapt to meet this, and future challenges and we will do our best to fight this pandemic together.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how fragile human life can be and has highlighted our abuse of the natural world either through habitat destruction or wildlife consumption. We now know that wildlife meat bought from ‘wet markets’ in China caused the pandemic. MEP’s wildlife protection activities in the Mara, although centered on elephants, extends to other species by providing boots on the ground protection and intelligence gathering. Therefore, MEP is in agreement with the approaches needed to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade and help prevent future outbreaks of zoonotic disease and we intend to extend these activities even further. We see this crisis as an opportunity to positively reframe our relationship with the natural world and, when the pandemic is over, we will be a stronger and more united community in the Mara.