Mara Elephant Project and Partners Rescue 90 People from Narok County Floods

After a month of nonstop rainfall in the Mara, the Talek River broke its banks on May 1 leaving 14 camps, their staff and their guests surrounded by rushing waters. Mara Elephant Project joined the Kenya Red Cross, Narok County Government and the community to rescue people by air and on foot.

First on the scene was MEP CEO Marc Goss who woke up to a call from the manager at Basecamp Mara that the flood waters were rapidly rising. The trained MEP team immediately mobilized with Search and Rescue (SAR) equipment to assist from the ground while Marc was in the air in the helicopter. The MEP team evacuated guests two at a time from five camps and daisy-chained ropes to ensure no one was left behind.

The MEP helicopter flew for almost 7 hours on May 1 rescuing 90 people alongside partners.

“We were the first on the scene of the flooding incident and we worked closely with camp staff, the community, and the Narok County Government to rescue the flood victims. The lodge staff was invaluable with giving us detailed briefings. I was happy that the cold and scared people were able to all be saved in a professional and timely manner.”

CEO Marc Goss

Changes in the landscape and climate have created the perfect storm for flooding, a large amount of water moving quickly over degraded land. In the first quarter of 2024 alone, the Mara received 42% of the total rainfall for all of 2023. Fortunately, in the Mara, the rapid waters claimed zero victims on May 1; however, earlier in the week, two rangers from Pardamat Conservancy drowned in rushing waters while on patrol.

This is preventable and now, more than ever, MEP is dedicated to increasing the number of rangers in the Mara that receive SAR and water training thanks to support from the Basecamp Explorer Foundation Kenya. We also continue the important habitat protection work which combats the landscape and climate changes causing these natural disasters.

This week, we were especially thankful to have not just the training but the equipment to rapidly respond to save lives. We were also grateful for partners who joined forces to care for the people in the Mara. The rain continues and now the Mara River is threatening to overflow, and the MEP Coexistence Farm has been abandoned to ensure our staff’s safety. It’s a shifting situation and one that highlights how adaptable Mara Elephant Project must remain to make an impact.

Our condolences for the lives lost and the camps lost. The Mara is nothing if not resilient.