Mara Elephant Project rangers finished the fourth quarter of 2019 with a strong focus on habitat protection activities while also staying vigilant about protecting the Mara’s elephants and communities (pictured left on patrol in December). MEP rangers responded to a total of 21 human-elephant conflict incidents in the fourth quarter, most were mitigated using drums, the ranger vehicle or firecrackers and on occasion the Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter. The MEP intelligence department had two notable arrests along with Kenya Wildlife Service and seizures of 13.5 kg of ivory.
The Transmara MEP ranger unit destroying a kiln on December 3.
MEP rangers on the ground October 19 safely moving elephants away from the community.
In terms of habitat protection, the main areas of focus were the Mau, Loita and Nyakweri forests. In October, the Transmara teamed destroyed a total of 14 kilns in the Nyakweri Forest and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mau De-Snaring Unit destroyed 23 kilns, 55 bags of charcoal, confiscated 40 illegally logged posts, removed six snares and arrested 10 suspects for illegal logging. The Siana team removed two snares targeting small animals. In November, MEP rangers confiscated 4,140 illegal pieces of wood, removed 25 snares and destroyed 87 kilns. In December, MEP rangers confiscated 2,000 illegal posts, 10 pieces of podo, 1,575 pieces of cedar, arrested 12 suspects for illegal logging or charcoaling, destroyed 84 kilns and 81 bags of charcoal and removed three snares. All of these habitat protection activities resulted in over 5,467 kilometers of distance covered on foot patrol, 34,552 kilometers by vehicle and 990 kilometers covered on motorbike.The posts recovered in Loita in December being destroyed.
While the habitat destruction level is alarming, the good news is that MEP rangers are having an impact on the protection of the Mara’s forests and more so now with the 14 new rangers deployed at the end of December in the Mau and Loita forests. The selection process took place in October for these cadets and the six-week training began run by MEP NCOs and by Narok County Government officers. The 14 total new recruits, five for Loita and nine for the second Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mau De-Snaring Unit, completed their basic tactical training courses that included navigation, field craft, radio communications, patrol medic, intel procedures, drill, Kenya wildlife laws, securing a crime scene, and MEP SOPs. With the teams in Loita and Mau we are able to cover more area and we can expect an increase in protection of all wildlife and habitats in their new areas of operations.The nine new SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit rangers fully equipped, trained and deployed at the end of December.