Elephants peacefully grazing in the Mara.
As Mara Elephant Project closes out 2017 we reflect on the work we have done during the year. We are proud to say that 2017 was a good year for elephant conservation in the Mara ecosystem. MEP’s efforts have decreased poaching and we feel we have adopted a more comprehensive approach to mitigating human-elephant conflict. Some of the 2017 highlights include: deployment of eight elephant GPS collars covering the far stretches of the ecosystem including the Mau Forest and Magadi area; deploying rangers in the Loita Hills and Mau Forest; responding to a record number of human-elephant conflicts, and continued arrests of ivory dealers and middlemen.
We look forward to presenting the details of our 2017 progress in the annual report which will be released by the end of this month.
The most exciting partnership news that ended our year on a high note is a representative from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) called MEP to inquire about starting a dedicated anti-poaching team in the Mau Forest. MEP has expanded our area of operations into the forest which is a critical at risk habitat; however, having reinforcements would be a great asset for us. We’ve submitted a proposal to DSWT and hopefully we are given the opportunity to expand our efforts to not only protect elephants, but also this critical part of the Mara ecosystem. Speaking of the Mau Forest rapid response unit, they covered the most distance in their patrol vehicle, covering 1,461 km. For the month of December, MEP rangers managed to cover a distance of 1,009 km on foot; 2,889 km by vehicle and 434.5 km on motorbike.
In December, we had UK pop star Ellie Goulding visit MEP HQ in her role as an Ambassador for the United Nations. More will be released about her time spent with MEP’s elephants in March.
An aerial shot from Ellie Goulding’s visit to MEP.
In December, a meeting took place at Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters in Nairobi where all organizations working across Kenya presented their elephant collaring data. Jake Wall from MEP’s scientific partner Save the Elephants presented five visual outputs illustrating all of our elephant’s movements since the beginning of MEP’s collaring program in 2012. In addition to this he presented DAS and how it is working across Africa along with a printed high-resolution map on A0 size.
The above map illustrates the speed trajectory of all of our collared elephants across the ecosystem.
We were able to get an aerial visual on our newest collared elephant in the Mau Forest, Nancy. Also, in December, the rangers recorded 455 elephants sightings, which were reduced from last month. There’s an interesting movement happening where four of our collared elephants were observed moving to the game reserve and even, to an extent, crossing into the Serengeti. We will be investigating this further in January.
Collared elephant Nancy from the helicopter.
Unfortunately, early in December Santiyan dropped her collar and when we attempted to find her again we could not due to thick dust and the size of the large herd. Luckily, we managed to put a replacement collar on another individual in her herd and named this elephant Earhart after the famous aviator Amelia Earhart.
MEP rangers collaring Earhart.
Overall, it was a great end to 2017 and MEP is hopeful for another successful year in 2018.