In September, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mau De-Snaring Unit rangers along with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) arrested a bushmeat poacher and confiscated 11 poison arrows in the Mau Forest. They also destroyed six kilns, four sacks of charcoal, one pit saw and removed 61 snares. MEP rangers also confiscated 6,410 cedar posts in Loita and 10 podo posts. In total, the Transmara team destroyed 36 kilns in the Nyakweri Forest and 16 kilns elsewhere along with three sacks of charcoal.
Snares recovered on September 24.
Cedar posts recovered on September 10.
MEP also assisted the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mara Mobile Vet Unit in two elephant treatments in September. The first was a treatment of a young calf (pictured right) and the second was a large bull treated in Mosiro with various arrow injuries. This month we resumed our aerial monitoring using the Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter of the collared elephants, which allowed us to spot this elephant’s injury during a routine aerial patrol of our collared elephant Napoleon. We were then able to deploy the KWS vet Dr. Limo to Mosiro with the helicopter to treat this injured elephant and pulled an arrow out of him. He’s expected to make a full recovery.
The injured bull spotted during a routine aerial patrol.
As the crop season is over, we have seen a decrease in crop related human-elephant conflict incidents with four in the month of September. This month we managed to untwist Maximus’ collar in the Mau which in many ways was more difficult than a collaring because you have to single out the collared animal and then dart and not lose him in the thick forest. The Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter was key in doing this (pictured left landing in the Mau).
There were two collared elephants spotted in mega herds in September using the helicopter. Namunyak was spotted by MEP rangers on the 8th with a herd of more than 50. Lempiris was also sighted during an aerial patrol with a group of more than 70.
MEP collared elephant Chelsea spotted by rangers in September with her calf.
At the beginning of the month, MEP’s Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall attended a census planning meeting to plan three upcoming elephant censuses: Nyakweri Forest Oct 2019, Maasai Mara May 2020 and Mau Forest 2020. Both the Mau and Nyakweri forest censuses will be dung counts as aerial counts are not feasible. The Mara count will be done by air. MEP will participate in all three by contributing ground teams to walk transects during the dung counts and will use the Karen Blixen Camp Trust 5Y-MEP to assist the aerial census, especially those areas in the hills that are more challenging with a fixed wing. Jake will be assisting in report writing and final count outputs.
Jake also hosted Dr. Jared Stabach from the Smithsonian Institute Conservation Biology programme for five days to kick off the first meeting of the One Mara Research Hub corridors working group. They looked at available wildebeest and elephant movement data along with infrastructure layers on fences and roads to plan an analytical approach to understand the effects of fencing on wildlife movement. Jared has also secured U.S. government resources to acquire satellite imagery across the greater Mara ecosystem that will aid their understanding of the human footprint in particular.
Speaking of collaboration, Teddy Kinyanjui, owner of Seedballs Kenya and the inventor of seed balls has teamed up with PhD researcher Nathan Hahn to invent a new farm based HEC deterrent. Nathan will be categorizing the effect of our HEC tool kit. They are looking at developing a low cost and easy to replicate conflict prevention and resolution tool that are necessary to build up the tolerance of local farmers who live near elephants. This will reduce mortality and treatment costs of elephants hit with spears and arrows as well as economic loss experienced by farmers. Teddy and Nathan have re-purposed the seed balls technology to make a larger pepper and charcoal dust ball that disintegrates in a cloud of dust. The delivery tool is a modernized roman infantry staff sling. They have already recorded throwing the pepper balls over 100 meters. This new technology is important to trial while developing our best practices for the HEC toolkit.
The big fundraising news for September is that MEP CEO Marc Goss and Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall embarked on a tour of the US meeting with key current supporters of Mara Elephant Project and initiating new relationships. We would like to personally thank Lori Price for all of her hard work to put on an exceptional dinner party in Washington DC. We also would like to thank Vulcan, Google and Terra Conservation for hosting us. Finally, a special thank you to the Angama Foundation who donated The Greatest Maasai Mara wildlife photographs for two events in Texas and for Turk Pipkin from The Nobelity Project who hosted us in Austin, Texas and Khashana Travel in Dallas, Texas. We think this two-week trip will be a great way for MEP to expand our organization and fulfill some fundraising objectives. Pictured left Marc and Jake with the Sidekick Foundation Executive Director Brian Kearney-Grieve at Grand Central Station in NYC.
The Indianapolis Zoo hosted MEP Trustee Trey Fehsenfeld on September 21 for a presentation to their wildlife conservation club. All of the teens and their families were really engaged with the presentation by Trey and we continue to enjoy doing partnership work with organizations like the Indy Zoo that have been generous enough to support our work.
MEP Trustee Trey Fehsenfeld presenting at the Indianapolis Zoo.
Emmy winning videographer Matt Mays and Bob Poole visited MEP in August to update the MEP Overview Video newly titled Conflict to Co-Existence. You will find this new video on our website. This also resulted in an updated MEP pamphlet to reflect an updated look and strategy for the organization.
We received several key individual donations in September to MEP. Thank you to all of the individuals for donating a total of $55,745 in the month of September in individual donations and another $1,652 on Facebook thanks to Rita Cabases’ birthday fundraiser. We also received a check from the Intel Foundation which is donating a percentage of the receipt of sales of their staff range of clothing and other items. Thank you to everyone who entered The Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition in support of MEP. MEP had some amazing entries from Stephen Underwood, Pareet Shah, Arav Shah, Joseph Messenbaugh, Margaret Bishop, Will Fortescue, Romit Shah, Ali Alshamsi, Yaron Schmid, Pravir Patel, Lennart Hessel, Bharath Yuvraj, Viral Shah and Jeff Schultes. Finally, we received a matching donation of $7,000 from MEP Trustee Beatrice Karanja which was in celebration of Max’s efforts in August to raise money for MEP rangers. Max’s fundraiser along with donations collected for World Ranger Day and World Elephant Day means MEP has raised $28,000!
Speaking of The Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition, MEP had some amazing entries during the month of September. Thank you to Stephen Underwood, Pareet Shah, Arav Shah, Joseph Messenbaugh, Margaret Bishop, Will Fortescue, Romit Shah, Ali Alshamsi, Yaron Schmid, Pravir Patel, Lennart Hessel, Bharath Yuvraj, Viral Shah and Jeff Schultes for supporting MEP with your entries.