MEP was developed to fill a gap in protecting elephants outside of conservancies and protected areas in the Mara ecosystem. Elephants that are “safe” in the Mara have been in the formally protected national reserves. The Government of Kenya through Kenya Wildlife Service with the Narok County Government formally protects the animals within the Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR). Bordering three sides of the MMNR is private land, which forms part of the elephant’s natural rangeland. The private lands, over the last 20 years, have gone from group ranch ownership to individual ownership. During this period, tourism investors built lodges and camps on the private land. Over time, the community and the lodge and camp owners entered into partnerships to lease land for conservation.
A satellite image of the greater Mara region highlighting the locations of MEP HQ and historical ranger bases, poaching hotspots and the areas where elephants are formally protected.
MEP operates inside these conservancies when it needs to, but overall elephants in the MMNR and the conservancies have been relatively safe, and the Monitoring of Illegally Killed Elephants (MIKE) data continues to support this. As a result, most of the illegal killing of elephants, and hence the work MEP does, is concentrated in an unprotected area of 11,500 km2 outside these areas. MEP believes that by protecting elephants we are also protecting the greater Mara ecosystem.
Green polygons represent the current area of operation. The purple polygons represent the new proposed area of operation including Loita and the Western Serengeti. The white polygons represent where we have had a seasonal presence with the rapid response units.
Our approach is to monitor, evaluate and protect elephants in collaboration with key partners in the region using the MEP Method.
The MEP Method consists of our boots on the ground rangers, applied research and collaborative approach.
“Mara Elephant Project is a conservation project, so our main focus is elephants and we’re broadening those horizons now to include elephant habitat, the environment and some of the other issue’s elephants are facing as we look to a long-term strategy for elephant protection.” Dr. Jake Wall, MEP Director of Research and Conservation
The long-term goal is to maintain a harmonic balance between wildlife, communities and habitat and move the Mara from conflict to co-existence.