Mara Elephant Project has introduced a drone specific section to the monthly report as our rangers and researchers are now regularly deploying drones to support their conservation work. In September, our ranger teams at various locations were actively involved in responding to multiple cases of elephants encroaching into human settlements and blocking access to critical infrastructure, such as schools.
Our rapid response team has been instrumental in responding to several incidents involving elephants inside fences near our headquarters. The first incident involved pushing two bulls out of an electric fence, while on September 18th, the team dealt with a similar situation, moving nine bulls back to the conservancy. They’ve also been responding to several cases of elephants breaking electric fences in the Pardamat Conservation Area including two incidents involving collared elephant Matali.
The mobile team stationed at Ol Kinyei Conservancy has been actively involved in pushing a larger herd of elephants out of the settlements bordering the protected land. Both the “Bravo” and “Echo” ranger teams within the Loita region have played a crucial role in removing elephants from maize fields at Entasekera and addressing various incidents around the Oltarakwai area.
In Mosiro, the “Lima” ranger team has been responding promptly to situations where elephants have intruded into settlements. Their efforts have been focused on pushing elephants to safer areas and clearing pathways for children to access their schools without hindrance. These operations have been made possible through the effective use of drones, aiding our teams in pushing elephants back to their habitats and ensuring the safety of both local communities and elephants.
The “Lima” team is the latest ranger team launched by MEP and in September they attended a community meeting to hear directly from the community about their issues related to wildlife and the environment. The area Chief and over 100 community members were in attendance. Additionally, these community rangers were busy in September destroying charcoal kilns and confiscating illegal timber and posts.
In September, the MEP/ Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mau De-Snaring Units (the “Alpha” and “Charlie” teams) alongside partners Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Bongo Surveillance Project (BSP) rangers arrested habitat destruction suspects, removed snares and destroyed charcoal kilns inside the forest. The teams also mitigated conflict by chasing elephants away from community farms using firecrackers and roman candles back to the forest.
The MEP “Foxtrot” team continued with their monitoring activities in the month of September. They are currently deployed in an area with high conflict and are responding to mitigate conflict and monitoring elephants for injuries.
In September, the MEP “Golf” ranger team received a report from Oloisukut Conservancy rangers that a young female elephant was injured and needed treatment. MEP called in Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit to treat the elephant for a spear wound on her left rear leg while MEP rangers assisted on the ground. The rangers continue monitoring her as she recovers.
Overall in September, MEP rangers alongside government partners arrested 13 habitat destruction suspects, removed seven snares, and mitigated 21 conflicts. They also confiscated 37 pieces of timber and 28 posts, destroyed 18 charcoal kilns and 16 sacks of charcoal. In September, MEP rangers covered a distance of 1,478.74 km on foot and 12,695.94 km by car in GME.
The MEP Research Department welcomed Francis Odero as the newest member of the team. He’s leading the monitoring and reporting program and has a background in GIS and software development. The team attended the inaugural Wildlife Research and Training Institute Wildlife Scientific Conference in Naivasha. It was a very well attended conference and a great opportunity for MEP to collaborate with our wildlife research partners.
The Co-Existence Farm team launched an initiative last month to engage the next generation of Kenyan conservationists and collaborate with local school conservation clubs. In September, they spearheaded two events, one involving garbage clean up and recycling and the other covered food waste.
In September, MEP received a report from Olare Motorogi Conservancy rangers of an injured bull elephant in need of treatment. The bull is individual 1,150 as identified in the MEP database of known individuals called ElephantBook. MEP’s long-term monitoring (LTM) team assisted KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit to help with the treatment and Tropic Air provided aerial assistance. The suspected abscess causing swelling on his right hind leg was cleaned and treated and he’ll continue to be monitored as he heals.
On September 16, the MEP LTM team partnered with the Connected Planet Foundation to host an environmental education experience for students from Sekenani and Ololchurra conservation clubs. The children threw seedballs from Seedballs Kenya in a degraded area in the Mara. Our team also joined the 15 students for a game drive in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
In September, MEP celebrated 12 years of elephant protection. Thank you to all our partners and donors for your unwavering and continued support. In September, we received our annual support from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Asilia Giving and the Angama Foundation, all supporters we’re extremely grateful to retain.
Finally, last but not least, there were two events the MEP team participated in during the month of September. The first, the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi where MEP advanced our opportunities for collaboration in conservation and ensure alignment with global strategies in climate action and conservation. The second, MEP was honored to attend the 2023 Indianapolis Prize Gala in Indianapolis, IN, USA. An event that recognizes the heroic conservationists who are saving the earth’s most endangered species. During this event, we hosted MEP USA Board Member Erica Dillow and long-time MEP champion John Dillow, Director of EarthRanger Jes Lefcourt and his wife Maria and a long-time MEP champion Lori Price. We thank MEP Co-Founder Suzie Fehsenfeld for her support that enabled MEP to attend.