Forests are key habitats not just for elephants but a majority of the world’s land-based plants and animal species and play a vital role in supporting millions of livelihoods and are often referred to as the Earth’s lungs. The Mau Forest Complex is the largest indigenous montane forest in East Africa covering an estimated area of 273,300 ha and home to over 600 elephants and the critically endangered mountain bongo antelope. The forest is also the water tower for the Mara River, and protecting it is vital for a healthy ecosystem.
Deployed in 2018, the two Mara Elephant Project ranger teams sponsored by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) work in the Mau Forest to combat poaching, habitat destruction and increase protection for elephants and communities bordering the forest. Working alongside partners Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Bongo Surveillance Project (BSP), the “Alpha” and “Charlie” SWT Mau De-Snaring Units continued their impact in 2023.
Beyond their regular impact in 2023, there were many training opportunities offered to Mara Elephant Project staff for capacity development. In July, Expert Drones East Africa (EDEA) joined MEP at headquarters for a refresher drone training for all our certified drone operators. Ranger Philemon from the SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit received his mobile pilots license after attending an EDEA drone training. In August, MEP hosted two trainers from the Automobile Association of Kenya driving school to lead our drivers and senior staff through a defensive driving course. In November, MEP staff took part in a snake bites and handling training at MEP HQ hosted by East African Reptiles – Taylor Ashe Antivenom Foundation. In late 2023, SWT lead ranger Caren Yegon completed the LEAD Ranger Bush School Instructor course and oversaw the medic training portion of the ranger training MEP offered in house to 29 new wildlife ranger candidates. Several members of the teams also took place in a community event for World Ranger Day in July and took the opportunity to speak about their important work in the Mau. Left: LEAD Ranger
As key wildlife habitats continue to be under threat, Mara Elephant Project with support from Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is focused on continuing our protection efforts in the Mau and building partnerships that benefit Kenya’s wildlife and wild spaces.