Mara Flooding Search and Rescue Operations in MEP’s May Report

In early May, the Mara Elephant Project team responded to flood-related emergencies in the Maasai Mara. Fourteen camps bordering the Talek River flooded, and MEP alongside the Kenya Red Cross, Narok County Government, and community members responded to rescue 90 people on the ground and in the air.

Emboo River camp, owned by members of the MEP Advisory Committee, flooded and the MEP team assisted their staff to safely re-enter camp after the water receded to assess the damage. “The MEP team helped us stay safe,” CEO Valery Super said. “They shared the lessons they learned with our team as well.” An official statement from Emboo River said, “This event has only deepened our commitment to walking the path we’ve been paving within the industry. As the river carved new paths through our beloved terrain, it reinforced the resilience of our team, our community, and our beautiful Maasai Mara.”

The rain continued in the first week of May and the Mara River was threatening to overflow putting the MEP Coexistence Farm at risk. Farm Manager Abigael Pertet and her team had to quickly evacuate the farm after grabbing only the essentials and they were anxiously waiting at headquarters for news. Meanwhile, the MEP helicopter remained in the air and our trained workforce was on the ground responding to communities in need. “The Coexistence Farm was not spared from the floods as the Mara River invaded,” said Abigael. “Luckily, we were able to secure all our belongings and I am happy to report that the whole team is safe, and we continue encouraging everyone to keep safe.”

The flooding had a devastating impact on infrastructure leaving bridges and roads impassable and cutting off communities from essentials like food and healthcare. The MEP helicopter ferried emergency supplies to stranded communities and rangers those first few weeks of May joining our partners to respond to the Mara floods.

Drones were vital in May when soggy conditions prevented MEP rangers and researchers from normally accessible areas. The HQ Team has been working tirelessly, responding to nighttime conflict incidents around Aitong, Pardamat, and Lemek. They have also been assisting the “Foxtrot” team in Ngosuani. Matali, one of our collared elephants, has been one of the individuals pushed daily by the “Foxtrot” team. Also, in May, the MEP ‘Foxtrot’ ranger team responded to collared elephant Ivy, a known crop-a-holic, and her herd inside farms crop raiding. They deployed their drone to move Ivy, her two young calves, and the rest of the herd out of the thick bushes they were using as a staging area near the farm and back into the conservancy.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mau De-Snaring Unit has been monitoring the forest, primarily focusing on observing people’s movements within the forest and detecting any illegal activities. This recently led to the discovery of charcoal burning, and the team successfully destroyed the kilns. In May, they deployed the 3T in Naisuya to assist in forest monitoring, which resulted in the recovery of illegal logging activities.

The MEP ‘Foxtrot’ ranger team also deployed a drone in May to monitor a herd of elephants in thick bushes and during that routine patrol, they spotted what appeared to be a bull elephant with a back injury. Luckily, the drone allowed them to get a clear bird’s eye view and confirm he was in fact perfectly healthy, and it was a spot of mud from a recent river wallow.

Overall, in May, MEP rangers alongside government partners arrested five bushmeat poaching suspects and 15 habitat destruction suspects. They confiscated 38 kg of bushmeat, 782 pieces of timber and 177 posts, removed 73 snares, destroyed 24 charcoal kilns and mitigated 12 conflict incidents. In May, MEP rangers covered a distance of 1,289.63 km on foot and 1,835.63 km by car in the GME.

Collared elephant Kiambi was in distress and moving slowly. After deploying MEP rangers to monitor him in Naboisho Conservancy, a new wound was observed, and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit responded to treat him. MEP provided both ground and aerial support while Dr. Njoroge attended to the bull and treated him for an arrow wound. The arrow had fallen out, but the residual swelling caused compromised mobility. Luckily, the prognosis is good and MEP rangers will continue monitoring him as he recovers.

The long-term monitoring (LTM) team was active within Ol Kinyei Conservancy and the eastern portion of the ecosystem. The team identified a total of 56 elephants and re-identified three bulls and 43 elephants in the Greater Mara Ecosystem, resulting in 21 sightings this month. They also marked several roads, fences, and physical features, as shown on the map below. The LTM team faced several challenges in the field, primarily due to the heavy rainfall experienced across the country.

The geospatial team provided training to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in the use of TerraChart for mapping fences. The MEP Coexistence Farm held a World Biodiversity Day at Nabulu Grace Academy with 40 students in the conservation school club thanks to the support of Kampur Travel Diaries. MEP partnered with Women in the Wild for the presentation and the day ended with the planting of 50 trees.

Finally, MEP announced four new recipients of the Fran Duthie African Elephant Conservation Scholarship.

MEP Monthly Report May 2024