The Loita Forest has been one of the more recent additions to MEP’s area of operation. This lush area is perfect for elephants during both dry and rainy season and unfortunately, because of its isolated location, it’s also the perfect place for poachers.
The lush Loita Forest.
In the beginning of 2017, MEP had reports from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) of an elephant carcass that was suspected of being poached as well as gunfire heard in the area. This moved us into action. We deployed anti-poaching patrol rangers in the area for two weeks and sent our Senior Intelligence Warden to reconnaissance the area. What MEP found, after our two-week initial patrol, was many instances of poaching that had mostly gone unnoticed in this isolated area. Once we returned home, about a month later, in April, there were more reports of gunfire, illegal logging and more dead elephants from suspected poaching.
An elephant carcass from the original two-week patrol in Loita.
All of these instances combined led MEP to believe that we needed to station a MEP ranger team in Loita for an extended period of time, but we didn’t want to pull resources from another area of operation in need. So, as a solution, we called a meeting on April 4 in Magadi with the KWS Assistant Director from Kajiado and the KWS Assistant Director from Nakuru and agreed that we would pool our resources to have a dedicated rapid response team in Loita Hills. MEP agreed to provide a vehicle and three rangers in Loita for 50% of the time the team is in the forest.
MEP partners, KWS rangers, surveying Loita Forest.
So, after spending more time in Loita listening to intelligence and developing relationships with informants, MEP would like to announce that our most recent sting operation in Loita resulted in the arrest of one poacher with 32 kilograms of ivory.
The arrested suspect and ivory seizure.
Though we have a long way to go in this area, with MEP’s partnerships, dedicated rangers and spot-on intelligence gathering, we hope to make a difference in Loita and reduce the amount of poaching.