What an exciting first quarter for Mara Elephant Project and our core supporter, ESCAPE Foundation! February was the single most lucrative month for MEP in its history! We had an individual donate $350,000 of unrestricted funding to our organization, which is a major step towards achieving our funding target of $1.2 million in 2018 for existing and new operations. This single largest donation in MEP history was secured by MEP Trustee Richard Roberts and is being used for core operational expenses like buying a new vehicle for the intelligence team and continuing the monthly aerial monitoring flights of MEP’s collared elephants. It will also allow us to deploy nine replacement collars in 2018 and provide additional ranger training and deployment.
Also, in February, we received $10,000 from an individual that will supply new uniforms for all MEP rangers and the Canadian organization, Elephanatics, donated $1,800 collected from their 2017 March for Elephants and Rhinos (pictured left).
We continued our fundraising streak in March when a donor supported the three-year lifespan of an elephant collar for $26,000. This donor found MEP through Tropic Air Kenya and Richard’s Camp, and we were delighted that he and his young daughter were able to join us on this collaring operation. The new elephant, Julia, is in the Loita area of the Mara ecosystem, a portion that sees a high level of human-elephant conflict. In March, MEP also collected over $795 from Facebook fundraisers. We’d like to thank Jade, Stephanie, Destiny, Rachel, Tristin, Sandrine, and Melanie for raising money for MEP to celebrate your birthdays on Facebook! These small grassroots fundraising efforts all added up to over $1,207 in the first quarter. In March, MEP also received a total of $8,000 from two separate families that have previously donated to our organization.
New collared elephant Julia.
In January, we had the honor of hosting His Holiness Acharya Purshottam Priyadasji Swamishree Mararaj for a second time. He enjoyed touring MEP HQ and seeing the new operational office and graciously gave his blessing to the new office.
His Holiness with MEP C.E.O. Marc Goss.
Also, in January, MEP launched an HQ visitor program with camps around the Mara. We’ve had eight camps sign up so far that have taken our updated MEP pamphlets to pass out to guests and included the “MEP Visitor Experience” on their website or as a guest activity. Eco-tourism is something that is very new and exciting and MEP wants to be on the cutting edge of this trend. We’re offering a full MEP visiting experience for a $100 donation per adult, but we’re hoping this cultivates a larger support network moving forward. So far, we’ve had visitors from Richard’s Camp (pictured left) and we’ve had camp managers from Angama Mara, Alex Walker Serian and Kicheche Mara Camp stop by to run through the tour and experience what their guests will experience. We’ve also had several travel agencies based in Kenya that are now offering our experience. We appreciate everyone’s interest in this experience and encourage you to reach out to Claire Bolles for more information.
A photo posted from Alex Walker Serian camp of MEP collared elephant Kiambi. Photo by Trai Anfield.
The launch of MEP’s core supporter, ESCAPE Foundation’s, MABINGWA film provided a good marketing opportunity. Thank you to MEP C.E.O. Marc Goss, Trustees Beatrice Karanja (pictured left) and Moses Kamau for representing MEP at that event. You can find the film and research on MEP or ESCAPE’s websites.
MEP’s Communications Director Claire Bolles presented to grades Kindergarten through Fifth at an Indianapolis elementary school. Crooked Creek Elementary School in Washington Township was raising money for MEP through their Global Marketplace in February. The presentation given to the kids was to teach them the important work MEP is doing in the Mara and relate it back to their lives so that they understood the full picture and importance of what they were raising money for during the marketplace. The marketplace was a HUGE success and they raised $2,000 that will be donated to MEP in April.
Crooked Creek students selling elephant magnets to benefit MEP.
In terms of communications, MEP had a really good first quarter. Our World Wildlife Day campaign from early March was a huge success and highlighted our partner the Mara Predator Conservation Programme. The “Results” graphic has now been updated on MEP’s website to reflect 2016 and 2017 successes. Keep following MEP on our blog, Elephant Matters, and through Facebook and Instagram.