In January, MEP CEO Marc Goss was featured in his alma mater Evergreen State University’s newsletter and we were pleased to celebrate World Wildlife Day on March 3 by publishing a blog about the Mau Forest to tie into the 2019 theme of protecting life below water. While protecting elephants in the Maasai Mara in Kenya seems like a world away from protecting life below water for both people and planet, MEP actually does a lot of work that ties directly into that. The Mau Forest is a forest complex located in the Rift Valley of Kenya and is the single most important water catchment for the Mara River, the life force behind all flora, fauna and wildlife in the Mara. When we protect elephants, as an umbrella species, and the habitats upon which they depend, there is a trickle-down effect for every living thing.
The 2019 edition of the Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition began in January and many great submissions are already rolling in supporting MEP. It continues to be an excellent source of exposure and fundraising for MEP and in February, Adam Bannister from Angama Foundation, released a two-part video introduction of MEP featuring Wilson Sairowua that highlights why it’s important to support the conservation organizations in this competition. The entries are all amazing and we thank Angama, Adam and every person who chose MEP as a beneficiary. In February, MEP Trustee Brian Kearney-Grieve and Communications Director Claire Bolles met with Tyler Davis and Steve Mitchell from Angama Foundation and we are delighted to announce that in 2019 they are supporting the protection of an elephant for three years in the Mara.
An entry from photographer Harman Singh Heer in the photography competition benefitting MEP.
In February, we were excited to announce that the Indianapolis Zoo supported MEP with a grant for the two-year protection of an elephant in the Mau Forest. This is a great new partnership and we believe that when a boots on the ground conservation organization is working with a funder who has the same mission, an impact can be made to all wildlife and the wild places they call home. For the second year in a row, MEP presented at Crooked Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis, IN, USA as their Global Marketplace in March again supported MEP. Kids hand crafted items to sell to students, teachers and staff with 100% of the proceeds donated to MEP.
Kids at Crooked Creek made MEP themed items to sell for their Global Marketplace.
MEP started February off with an exciting launch by Reuters and Narok County Government of a five-part online series about the Maasai Mara, Kenya. In the Meet the Experts section, MEP CEO Marc Goss is featured talking about the importance of protecting elephants and conserving the great Mara ecosystem. In the Conflict section, MEP Tracking manager Wilson Sairowua, in featured talking about his experience of growing up in the Mara and the role of MEP and its rangers.
We were also happy to participate in the kick off of Twende Porini or ‘Let’s Go Wild,’ Asilia Africa’s flagship yearly environmental and community program in the Mara where a group of children from local communities in the Mara area surrounding Asilia’s camps are selected to participate in a four-day conservation camp at one of their properties. On February 25, MEP Administrator Elvis Saaytoi (pictured left) along with Communications Director Claire Bolles visited Rekero Primary School to judge the three performance pieces, one from the elephant group, lion group and cheetah group and select the four children, two boys and two girls, that will participate in Twende Porini. MEP partnered with them in 2019 at Rekero Primary School to select four children that were hosted for four days starting on March 12 at Asilia’s Rekero Camp where they learned about wildlife and the environment. During their time there, lessons were combined with games and fun activities, including playing sports, talent shows, and storytelling to help the children learn about sustainable tourism and conservation, and the benefits that these have for them and their families. These four children really enjoyed their time at Asilia’s Rekero Camp where Elvis presented about the work MEP is doing in their own communities to mitigate human-elephant conflict. It’s experiences like these that can change the course of a young person’s life and participation in contests like this are very important for MEP to ensure we are encouraging the future generation of Kenyans to be the leaders on conservation.
The entire judging panel and children at Rekero Primary School.
On January 26, His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj, the spiritual leader of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, a worldwide center for spiritual, cultural and social welfare visited MEP HQ. A member of His Divine Holiness team presented a donation of over $1,000 to MEP in February and we thank them for always being a supporter of MEP every year (pictured right: Marc accepting a check for MEP).
In the first quarter, MEP raised over $90,000 from individual donors. Thank you to these individual donors for supporting MEP’s mission, their contribution will go directly to our mission of protecting elephants in the Mara. Facebook continues to be a great place to support our organization on a grassroots level. In the first quarter, $822 was raised by MEP through Facebook including three fundraisers run by Agnes, Ana and Jade. We thank you and all of our other donors for their generous support of our work.
DJI released the video they produced while visiting MEP in February and directly encouraged donations on their various social media channels to MEP. We would like to thank Brett Velicovich and the folks at DJI for making this happen. MEP’s very own Trustee Beatrice Karanja has been appointed to the judging panel of the annual TUSK Conservation Awards. This is a very prestigious appointment and we congratulate her on this amazing success! In other trustee news, MABINGWAa film executive produced by MEP Trustee Trey Fehsenfeld was awarded the Award of Distinction from the Best Shorts Competition 2018 Humanitarian Awards. MABINGWA was hand selected by the judges and staff, from the entire pool of entries to the competition throughout 2018, as a film that represents both the spirit of humanitarianism combined with quality filmmaking craft. The Explorations Company included Mara Elephant Project as part of their ecotourism package for 2019. Additionally, they’ve included us on their website as a project that they support and encourage their travelers to support as well. We had four visits in March to MEP HQ from Saruni Mara, Kicheche and Richard’s Camp and we thank these camps for including MEP in their Mara itineraries. The final visit was from a delegation of US Congressmen and women who were in Kenya representing USAID. MEP CEO Marc Goss hosted them at HQ and presented them with compelling evidence that the Mara should be included in the USAID considered funding.
Finally, MEP finalized a direct mail campaign that will be going out in the United States in April. This is a new tactic for MEP to see if we can continue to diversify our donor base. We should see results soon and will be able to report back on the effectiveness at that point. This all ties into the finalization of MEP’s 2019 Levels of Support, where you can find the best way to support MEP’s operations in 2019. We are 100% reliant on donor support to continue with our critical mission.