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 the MEP HQ and historical ranger bases, poaching hotspots and the areas where elephants are formally protected: MMNR and the Mara Conservancy, informally protected: Conservancies and unprotected, with Block 3 highlighted in red.
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 area of 4,000 km2 outside these areas.
Green polygons represent the current areas of operations. The purple polygons represent the new proposed areas of operations. Loita and the western Serengeti.
To better understand and address the poaching issue, where the elephant rangeland extends beyond protected areas, MEP’s developed a three-part program called the MEP Method.
The MEP Method to protecting elephants in the greater Mara ecosystem includes anti-poaching patrols & rapid response units, elephant collaring, monitoring and research, and human-elephant conflict mitigation.
“THE MARA ELEPHANT PROJECT HAS THREE MAIN COMPONENTS: TRACKING OF COLLARED ELEPHANTS,RESPONDING TO POACHING AND ANTI-POACHING WORK AND MITIGATING HUMAN-ELEPHANT CONFLICT.” Marc Goss, CEO, Mara Elephant Project