Habitat

Our ranger’s presence deters habitat destruction and applied research creates solutions for conserving the Mara ecosystem for generations to come.

Mara Elephant Project rangers increase security for wildlife and communities in their areas of operation all while deterring habitat destruction activities like illegal logging and charcoal production. MEP’s habitat protection activities are key specifically in the Loita, Mau and Nyakweri forests and this has been quite a challenge for our rangers as communities still rely heavily on cedar and other hardwoods for their houses, fences or firewood and land ownership is often unclear.

“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

Regular patrols of these forested area of the Mara ecosystem alongside partners Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Bongo Surveillance Project (BSP) and KWS are key to rooting out destructive activities.

“As MEP now we’re seeing if we want to keep the health of the Mara alive, we have to protect the Mau Forest. So, we put our first ranger team into the Mau Forest; we also have a team in the Loita Forest.” Marc Goss, MEP CEO

In total for 2019, MEP rangers confiscated 21,738 illegal logged posts, arrested 46 people for illegal logging and charcoal production, destroyed 274 kilns and 221 bags of charcoal. These numbers continue to increase into 2020 and MEP rangers are facing more challenges in shutting down habitat destruction activities.

In 2019, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mau De-Snaring Unit took government officials to the areas of the Mau Forest where logging, farming and charcoal production continue. This spurred a larger operation to evict these illegal users from the forest and launched a reclaiming effort that included tree planting at the end of 2019. In November, as part of the Mau Forest rehabilitation project spearheaded by the Kenyan Government, MEP was invited to the launch of a tree planting initiative together with the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, KWS, KFS, Police, Administration and NGO Stakeholders. The Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry Hon. Keriako Tobiko led the team in planting over 200,000 seedlings manually and oversaw 4.5 million seeds planted through aerial seeding. The rehabilitation process has been an overall success and already a number of plants have started to grow in the previously settled areas. We believe this will further augment the much-needed rehabilitation process in this area.

MEP has also partnered with Seedballs Kenya in an effort to re-green the Mara in areas that have been heavily hit by charcoal production and logging. The goal of seed ball distribution in Kenya is to improve biodiversity and work against deforestation that may leads to the destruction of wildlife breeding areas and corridors in Mara. The planting initiative’s goal is to improve and increase the forest cover in areas that have been cleared for illegal charcoal production.