Mara Elephant Project would like to start off the October Report by announcing the addition of Wolfred Wall, the new baby boy of MEP Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall and his fiancé Christina Toms. Wolfred wanted to make his debut a bit early which required a little help from the Karen Blixen Camp Trust (KBCT) helicopter, but everyone was happy and healthy. Congratulations Jake, Christina and Willow. The KBCT helicopter was also used in a treatment operation of a black rhino in the Mara Triangle. MEP provided aerial support for the Kenya Wildlife Service vet. The male black rhinos had a bad filarial worm infection, but the treatment was a success and he’s expected to make a full recovery.
MEP provided aerial and ground support to the KWS vet in the successful rhino treatment.
The very next day, on October 14, MEP received a call from Mara North Conservancy rangers that a community member nearby had been gored by a buffalo. We rescued the injured man using the KBCT helicopter and rushed him to Tenwek Hospital. He was losing a lot of blood and his lungs were punctured. The Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter rescue most likely saved his life.
Finally, the KBCT helicopter was used several times this month to push elephants away from settlements in the Siana Area. In total there were five incidents of human-elephant conflict during the month of October that MEP rangers responded to. Pictured left: The Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter being deployed to move elephants out of a settlement on October 19.
In October, MEP focused on habitat protection activities. This has been quite a challenge as communities still rely heavily on cedar and other hardwoods for their houses, fences or firewood and land ownership is unclear. In the Nyakweri Forest individuals own their own plots and they are clearing their land to farm and graze their livestock (Pictured right: Deforestation in Nyakweri Forest.). Our rangers have therefore only been able to record the charcoal kilns. There is however a pro conservancy movement in the area and some community members seem willing to lease their land for conservation. The challenge will be how to sustain such a program. Currently there are approximately 100 elephants living in this forest including our collared elephant Fitz. Next month we will do aerial reconnaissance missions with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) to identify some of the worst hit spots in an attempt to get their backing to do larger law enforcement operations. We still made an impact in October, as the Transmara team destroyed a total of 14 kilns in the Nyakweri Forest.
The five suspects arrested for illegal logging in the Mau Forest on October 24.
During the month of October, one suspect was arrested by KWS with 1.5 kg of ivory based on MEP intelligence. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mau De-Snaring Unit continues to have success each month. They destroyed 23 kilns, 55 bags of charcoal, confiscated 40 illegally logged posts, removed six snares and arrested 10 suspects for illegal logging in October. Also, in the middle of October, we ran the selection process for the new Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mau De-Snaring Unit, our second. The nine cadets have since reported to MEP HQ on the 28th and have started their six-week basic training. The training will be run by MEP NCOs and by Narok County Government officers. They have all been measured for their uniforms and we are collecting all of their equipment at the moment. We look forward to mobilizing the new team in December.
Ranger training taking place at MEP HQ.
Mara Elephant Project’s CEO Marc Goss and Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall began October in the States finishing their fundraising tour. On October 1, they met with Google on their campus in California and on October 2 (pictured left), they met with Vulcan and gave a Great Hall Speech to key staff within the organization. At Google, Izhak Shafran was our host for the day and we discussed a number of collaborative projects including the application of machine learning to movement behavioural classification. Both of these meetings were well received and helped MEP develop key relationships with technology partners on the cutting edge of software that can help MEP work smarter, faster and more efficiently. All of this culminated in Indianapolis, IN with a MEP fundraiser that took place on October 3. Thank you to Google, Vulcan and to the Angama Foundation for providing amazing wildlife photographs to be auctioned off at the event. MEP raised over $9,800 at the event with additional donations from individuals to bring our total fundraising from individuals to $14,833 for the month of October. On Facebook, MEP received a $20 donation in the month of October. All of this is a great kick off to the holiday giving season.
MEP CEO Marc Goss and Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall along with Sidekick Foundation Executive Director Brian Kearney-Grieve with the Vulcan staff.
MEP received a grant in 2018 for ranger equipment from the Bently Foundation. We purchased 37 backpacks for rangers in October and distributed them, so they are deployed in the field (pictured left). We would like to thank the Bently Foundation for their support of MEP rangers over the last year. The new direct mail campaign for MEP has kicked off in the US and donations are starting to come in from this effort.
MEP was featured on GeekWire magazine this month along with Wanderlust magazine. The Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition came to a close in October for 2019 and MEP had the most entries yet with 30! Thank you to Julien Bundun, Romit Shah, Fernando Morales Roca, Meghana Srinivasan, Harshni Malde, Gerhard Brunner, Sascha Feuster, Nirmal Jajodia, Graham Dowd, Frank Liu, Roisin Allen, Deborah Marquis, Rihaz Sidi, Barbara Jensen Vorster, Sushil Chauhan, Adam Zdebel, Jacques-Andre Dupont, Shazmeen Bank, Kathy Houle, YARON SCHMID, Alissa Everett, Pranav Chadha, Ritesh Patel, Lennart Hessel and Shivani Chandaria for supporting MEP with your entries.
One entry this month benefitting MEP was of the rare spotted zebra by Frank Liu.