There are two great highlights from the month of September. First, Mara Elephant Project celebrated 10 years on September 12. We asked supporters to join us to strengthen, build and grow into the next decade and were overwhelmed with the support from our staff, trustees, partners and donors to help us celebrate this milestone. We highlighted the 10 days of MEP and took a walk down memory lane. Thank you to everyone who posted well wishes and joined in our celebration.
Second, on the very same day MEP celebrated 10 years, MEP CEO and rangers had the chance the witness a Manyatta in Loita, a reconciliation gathering of age groups. The community members in Loita have been supportive of MEP’s efforts to protect the precious forest since the beginning. We currently have two full-time Loita ranger units supported by Lori Price dedicated to helping this community combat bushmeat poaching, habitat destruction and resolve conflict all happening on their doorstep. This Manyatta will last for up to six months and MEP provided toilet facilities for the gathering and supported it with food, masks and hand sanitizer.
“The Manyatta in Maa culture actually demonstrates the beginning and end of an age set and their graduation into being elders. This Loita Manyatta included many of the men and women we’ve worked with to protect the biodiversity of the Loita.”Assistant Senior Warden Jackson Maitai
“We wanted to get involved to highlight our successful joint efforts in protecting the Loita’s wildlife and forest, an important water catchment source. We thanked many men, women and children for their support.”Assistant Senior Warden Jackson Maitai
MEP Senior Warden Zakayo spent time in Tanzania meeting with Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) officials in the Serengeti National Park. This was a very successful visit and included meeting the new Chief Park Warden at Seronera HQ. We thought it was important to introduce ourselves to the senior staff and TANAPA already was well aware of our activities and applauded us for recent recoveries and arrests. They welcomed us to work together in the future and we plan to invite them to visit MEP.
The Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary (MES) ranger Suleiman alongside his ranger team and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) continue to have an impact in their area of patrol in the Shimba Hills. In September, this ranger team removed snares, noted elephant activity and arrested one suspect in possession of 74 kg of bushmeat.
The MEP ranger units operating in the Loita and Mau forests continued to bust illegal logging and charcoal operations in September. Overall, in September, MEP rangers alongside government partners arrested one bushmeat poaching suspect, confiscated 74 kilograms of bushmeat and removed five snares. They also arrested 16 suspects for habitat destruction and recovered five power saws, seven bags of charcoal, 221 posts, 60 pieces of timber and destroyed 13 kilns.
On September 1, the MEP leased helicopter was called into the Transmara area to respond to a herd of 60 elephants raiding community farms. After hours spent by MEP rangers on the ground to try to push this herd out of the community’s land, they needed back up from the leased MEP helicopter. While moving this large herd back into the conservancy area, a young baby was separated from his mother during the chaos. MEP rangers were on the ground, monitoring the situation alongside me in the air, which allowed them to quickly react to reunite the baby with his mother. They picked him up and gave him a lift to his mother who they found nearby and after they were reunited, they continued to monitor the elephants to ensure they were safe.
In September, the MEP Research Department made significant progress on the Macroscope project, and we are now running the project within Google’s Colaboratory. The notebooks are designed to make it easy to download tracking and event data from the EarthRanger platform and to perform analyses and create cartographic outputs starting with the tabular and cartographic outputs found within this monthly report. The goal is to open-source the project once a few more key features have been added. Our fence team continued to collect vital data on the spatial extent and type of fencing across the Mara. We added a further 272 km of fence line information to the Landscape Dynamics database. We made further progress on our analysis of elephant resource selection after solving some technical hurdles in fitting several statistical models to nearly 11 million datapoints. Our team is now focussed on writing up these results. We enjoyed seeing a spectacular number of wildebeest as part of the annual migration in the Mara Triangle.
On September 22, the Mara Elephant Project long term monitoring (LTM) team was monitoring elephants in the Mara Triangle when they noted a brand new one-day-old baby. Look how little and pink this brand-new baby is seen in photographs taken by the LTM Team Leader Vincent Lenkoko.
Conservation Officer Wilson Sairowua snapped some amazing photos while out in the field with Mara Elephant Project’s long-term monitoring team of a young baby elephant working on his trunk strength.