The Mara Elephant Project intelligence unit spans Kenya and in the first quarter of 2023, they successfully assisted Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) in the arrest of six suspects and confiscation of 71.7 kg (157 lbs.) of ivory in four separate busts. Joint intelligence operations like these are crucial to ensuring ivory isn’t crossing borders and seas.
During the first of February, fires broke out in the Mau and Loita forests. The two MEP/ Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) Mau De-Snaring Units joined the community to combat the fire that consumed 70-80 hectares. They were able to create a fire line to stop its progress and nightly rains helped extinguish the bulk of the fire. Meanwhile, the “Bravo” team in the Loita Forest was doing the same. The MEP helicopter was called in to assess the damage and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) joined. Nightly rain helped the team, and luckily, five days after it started, the fire was out.
The MEP “Kilo” ranger team is the most recent team to be deployed to increase protection of the Loita Forest. In late February, they discovered 500 posts logged from the forest inside a fence and joined the MEP “Bravo” team and government partners to set up an ambush to arrest the culprit. It took several days of patience, but the ambush was finally successful, and they arrested one suspect and booked him at the nearby police station.
In total, in the first quarter of 2023, MEP rangers alongside our government partners arrested 49 habitat destruction suspects, destroyed 101 kilns and 106 bags of charcoal, recovered 1,060 pieces of timber, 582 posts and three trees that were cut down. They arrested six bushmeat poaching suspects, seized 30 kg of bushmeat and removed 68 snares. The rangers also mitigated 40 conflict incidents in the first quarter and patrolled 6,321 km on foot and 55,279 km by car in the GME.
MEP rangers assisted our partners from KWS and SWT with nine total elephant treatments in the first quarter. There were two elephant treatments on January 4. MEP rangers assisted KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit with a bull elephant with two spear injuries on his shoulder and another bull with an arrow wound. In February, while monitoring elephants, the MEP mobile ranger team noted a female that appeared to have an injury on her side. After consulting with the KWS Vet Dr. Ndambiri from the SWT Mobile Vet Unit, a treatment operation was coordinated on February 26. This female was previously identified by MEP and is individual #201. The stomach injury, most likely a result of a spear, was treated in Naboisho Conservancy and she’ll continue to be closely monitored while she’s healing. They partnered again in late March to treat two elephants with spear and arrow wounds on their legs, a common injury found on elephants that venture into community land bordering the protected conservancies. Finally, the MEP “Golf” ranger team partnered with rangers from the KWS, Narok County and the Anne K. Taylor Fund alongside the vet, Dr. Asuka from the Mara Triangle, to treat a zebra who had a snare injury. The zebra was treated and sent along the way to hopefully make a full recovery.
The recruitment for a new ranger team in Mosiro took place in February and training began in March, which is taking place at headquarters and overseen by several MEP rangers and Assistant Senior Warden Jackson Maitai. MEP partnered with the Elephant Queen Outreach team to bring the movie and play to audiences in the Mara in February.
We also received an update from Sheema. In 2017, a young girl named Sheema was critically injured by a rouge elephant. MEP’s community rangers responded immediately and using the helicopter we were able to get her to the hospital where she received treatment and made a full recovery. MEP has stayed in touch and provided for her school fees yearly. Now, Sheema is 12 years old and attending Kishermoruak Primary School. She recently sent a photograph with her school supplies and uniform; all provide for by MEP.