Mara Elephant Project is happy to announce that our Annual Report for 2016 is now available for you to download and read.
While 2016 was a very positive year for MEP in terms of the continued reduction in the number of elephants being killed due to poaching and our human-elephant conflict (HEC) Toolkit, the growing rate of elephant deaths due to HEC is a very alarming statistic that is going to require our constant vigilance in 2017 and beyond.
- In the Greater Mara ecosystem poaching has decreased in 2016 with the lowest number since 2010. In 2016, eight elephants were killed for their ivory and only five sets of tusks were taken by poachers.
- MEP’s partnerships continue to grow and thrive. The crackdown on wildlife crimes is due to our continued partnerships with Kenya Wildlife Service, Narok County Government, the Kenyan police force and judiciary along with community members and conservancies in our area of operation.
- MEP was able to significantly increase the number of collared elephants we monitor, going from 13 to 21, with the help of World Wildlife Fund.
- MEP added a key new staff member with Victoria Fanthope joining us as our Development Director in October.
- The MEP Board underwent a very helpful governance review in 2016 and added two key members, Beatrice Karanja and Moses Kamau who along with their passion for wildlife and conservation bring invaluable expertise in communications and law respectively.
- In 2016, 10 Kenya Wildlife Service and 10 Narok County Government rangers have been successfully imbedded with the MEP anti-poaching teams, which has allowed us to expand our area of operation.
- In 2016 we arrested 48 poachers and seized 68 kilograms of ivory.
- In November, MEP partner David Sheldrick Wildife Trust donated a Land Rover, which adds our fourth vehicle to improve mobility and increase our response time to poaching and HEC.
- In 2016 MEP mapped our area of operation and highlighted hotbeds of HEC. As a result of this mapping, MEP set up two new patrol and HEC teams in these areas and developed multi-agency teams to react to HEC on a daily basis in areas that were confirmed to have higher rates of HEC.
- The addition of the Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari helicopter to MEP’s HEC Toolkit has mitigated the majority of the 91 HEC incidents MEP responded to in 2016.
- The helicopter also allows for MEP to start monitoring our 21 collared elephants on a monthly basis. This not only allows us to check in on the health of these important elephants, but we hope to learn more about herd dynamics and rangelands of the 500 to 600 elephants in these herds.
- The Percentage of Illegally Killed Elephants (PIKE) in the Greater Mara ecosystem has declined from 59% in 2015 to 50% in 2016, our target for the year, and the total number of dead elephants has decreased from 46 in 2015 to 40 in 2016. The challenge is now to reduce this even further.
- In 2016, all MEP managers and officers were equipped with iPhones that have a Save The Elephants tracking app which is a secure platform for visualizing real time elephant movements within the Mara-Domain Awareness System. All of this is incorporated to generate quarterly outputs on elephant movement, range density hotspots, corridors and streak events with range expansion in new areas.
- MEP partnered with Dr. Jake Wall to scientifically analyze the nearly 700,000-recorded GPS positions that have been collected from 40 elephants tracked in the Masai Mara since December 2011. This data is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the movements of the elephants within the Greater Mara ecosystem and helps us establish a baseline of movement patterns on which we can also monitor changes over time and inform spatial planning in the ecosystem.
- MEP continues to partner with local schools to support the future of conservation. We have not only establish wildlife clubs in four schools in partnership with The Maa Trust, but also helped develop a plan for an elephant-proof fence and sustainable woodlot in one high HEC school.
- MEP’s new website and updated Facebook page has also allowed us to reach a larger donor base in 2016 and keep our supporters more informed through regular blogs and updates.
Though the challenges of protecting elephants and securing the future for the greater Mara ecosystem are mounting. MEP is proud of the progress we’ve made in 2016 and are excited to continue this essential work in the Mara for 2017.