The Mara Elephant Project deploys the Karen Blixen Camp, Ree Park Safari, Robinson R44 helicopter as an essential asset in MEP’s HEC Toolkit. It ensures that not only elephant lives are saved, but human lives as well, as was the case on November 11.
MEP received a call from the Ol Odonyo Erinka Clinic in the Maasai Mara that a local cattle herder, Salankat Ol Pesi, came face-to-face with a herd of elephants while doing his job. He was thrown by one of the elephants and was carried into the clinic with what appeared to be severe injuries. The helicopter was needed to shuttle him to Tenwek Hospital and time was of the essence. We managed to get him into the helicopter lying down and were able to make the normally 4-hour trip in 20 minutes. We later found out that Mr. Pesi had six broken ribs and MEP’s rapid response made his likely recovery from these injuries more possible.
Though anti-poaching is always a priority, more and more frequently MEP is responding to human-elephant conflict situations in the Mara. As the human population in the area grows and the land resources become more used up with cattle grazing, charcoal burning and farming, the elephants have less and less land to roam and often come in contact with herders like Mr. Pesi.
MEP is relieved to have the helicopter to be able to respond to emergencies like the one that happened on November 11. Mara Elephant Project’s goal does not just entail protecting the elephants, but also alleviating any conflict situations that might occur between them and humans thus ensuring human safety as well.