An 11-year-old, Simran Choda, in school in Nairobi, Kenya raised money for MEP while working on her Individual Project Qualification. She chose to conduct her project as a Mammal Big Day, a day where she went out into the Mara and to count how many mammal species she saw within a 24-hour period. She conducted the count on January 15 and 16 with the help of CEO Marc Goss and Zarek Cockar and raised over £3,000 for Mara Elephant Project.
Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, Nairobi generously donated over $1,000 to MEP. Director of Research and Conservation Dr. Jake Wall met the group who was visiting nearby MEP HQ to accept the check and personally thank them for their support to protect elephants and their habitats across the GME. Creatura Wildlife Projects took artist Mark Ryden and his wife Marion Peck on safari in 2019 and their experience deeply affected them and inspired them to give back to wildlife conservation. Through Creatura Wildlife Projects, Mark and Marion have supported MEP since 2020 and their support continued with a $20,000 donation to support MEP rangers this year. We are extremely grateful for their continued support, passion and commitment to protecting wildlife and wild spaces.
The second Ultra MARAthon was a huge success in December with 54 relay teams participating. The 50 km race through the Maasai Mara raised over $5,880 for Olchorro, Lemek and Enonkishu conservancies as well as Africa Mission Services and Mara Elephant Project each! Thank you to the hardworking volunteer team for putting this marathon together and supporting MEP’s efforts.
In the first quarter, the Sidekick Foundation, Inc. dba Mara Elephant Project USA and Mara Elephant Project Trust in Kenya received $673,256 in total donations. This included an annual grant from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and a grant from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Nature’s Pitch supported the MEP Experimental Farm Project with a $17,000 grant, of which we received the first payment in February. Thank you to The Nobelity Project for supporting MEP with 50 kg of seedballs from Seedballs Kenya. We also received a grant payment from AI2 to support a Kenyan software developer to advance MEP’s EarthRanger software. We’d like to thank the Leslie L. Alexander Foundation for their continued loyal support of our organization. Additionally, we received our 2022 installment from the Indianapolis Zoological Society for their grant and another $7,500 grant from the JE Fehsenfeld Family Foundation, which has loyally supported MEP over the years. Kaila Fusco Designs also supported MEP through sales of her jewelry, thank you! Finally, LifeStraw supported MEP for World Wildlife Day by donating 50 straws for MEP rangers to use in the field. We are so grateful for their support.
We had over 50 entries that supported MEP in the first quarter for the 2022 Greatest Maasai Mara photo competition sponsored by Angama Foundation. Thank you to all of the photographers that supported MEP.
MEP has many options for you to support our operations. AmazonSmile Wish List is great for purchasing physical items that will go directly to our rangers and researchers in the field. Thank you to the donors for sending the most recent essentials that included tactical hoods/masks and Swiss Army multi-tools.
On February 9, MEP CEO Marc Goss was featured on an episode of This Wild Life Conservation Podcast. Each week, the podcast features leading conservationists describing tales of wild adventures and discussing the highs and lows of living and working in the wild. Marc was interviewed by Amy Turner about the last decade of MEP’s operations and how using technology like EarthRanger will positively impact the next decade of operation. Listen here. MEP was also featured alongside our partner Seedballs Kenya in ADF Magazine in February.
We celebrated World Wildlife Day on March 3, and the 2022 World Wildlife Day Film Showcase: Recovering Species includes films spreading the message that the restoration of a key species is a key element of the planet’s environmental health and biological diversity. MABINGWA, a film featuring some of the work of MEP, was given an honorable mention in the contest.
We celebrated International Women’s Day in March by introducing Abigael, a Kenyan working mother leading the MEP Experimental Farm exploring alternative crop scenarios that might help reduce the elephant crop-raiding pressure and diversify financial income for local farmers. Since starting the farm, Abigael and her team have had many visitors from the nearby community and beyond who are excited and curious about their work. People in this area of high conflict seem optimistic that we can work together to find a solution. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we shined a spotlight on a very important woman in conservation, our very own Beatrice Karanja. Beatrice, through her foundation Nature’s Pitch, recently supported the Mara Elephant Project Experimental Farm managed by Abigael Pertet. Read more about how MEP Chairwoman Beatrice Karanja supports the acceleration of Kenyan women in science and natural capital growth here.
Finally, the Sidekick Foundation, Inc. doing business as Mara Elephant Project USA in the U.S. has a new executive director. Claire Bolles has been promoted to the position effective February 15, 2022. Many of you already know Claire as she’s worked over the last six years on MEP’s communications and fundraising initiatives. We want to thank Trey Fehsenfeld for all of his time and effort spent championing MEP as executive director of Sidekick Foundation and as a trustee on the MEP Kenya Board of Trustees.