Thanks to the generosity of Karen Blixen Camp and Ree Park Safari, Mara Elephant Project operates the only helicopter in the Mara. Since 2015, MEP has had use of the helicopter and been able to expand rapid response to poaching, injured wildlife, and conflict by 4,000 km2.
The helicopter is an essential tool in our human-elephant conflict toolkit and works well in coordination with flash bangs. Additionally, it supports our collaring and monitoring efforts by making the collaring of at-risk elephants safer for both the elephant and support team. Additionally, we are now able to complete monthly monitoring flights that ensures the elephant’s safety and well being as well as collects important data like herd size and health. Though MEP rangers are the backbone of our organization, the helicopter provides them with aerial support in difficult HEC mitigation situations. We are able to locate crop-raiding elephants faster and provide a much-needed distraction from the elephant while our boots on the ground guide them to safety.
In addition to all of these benefits that directly help MEP, the helicopter has helped many other organizations in the Mara, because it’s the only one in use specifically for wildlife. MEP’s access to the helicopter has allowed us to create more partnerships within the Mara. We’ve increased our partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust mobile vet unit to respond to injured animals over a much larger area. Another great benefit for the Mara is that MEP is able to quickly and effectively help anyone injured during a human-wildlife conflict situation and get them to treatment as soon as possible. In a smaller capacity, we are also helping investigate and treat other injured or deceased animals in the Mara such as giraffes and buffalo.