Q1 2024 CEO Report

Since 2011, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) and Mara Elephant Project have deployed satellite tracking collars on over 80 elephants across Kenya to rapidly respond to conflict, deter poaching and monitor their movements to inform our habitat protection efforts. In the first quarter, collared elephant “Tino” was a good example of why collars are so vital. On January 9, alongside KWS Vet Dr. Bernard Rono, Tino, a bull elephant, was fitted with a collar in Tana River County, a new area of monitoring for KWS, WRTI and MEP. The wildlife and communities living in this area are experiencing similar challenges to the Mara, infrastructure and agricultural expansion and high levels of conflict. I assisted the KWS team in the air and was joined by pilot Rob Walker in an R66 Robinson helicopter, who generously supported the flying time for this collaring operation. Just a week after his collaring, and thanks to the real time tracking, the MEP helicopter responded to an escalating conflict incident to move Tino out of a heavily developed area and his interactions with the community continued to escalate from there. In response, KWS mobilized their capture unit from Nairobi to translocate Tino to the Tsavo West National Park. MEP provided aerial assistance to the ground teams thanks to support again from Rob Walker. Today, Tino remains in the protected Tsavo area and has resumed daily life without the frequent interactions with people.

In January, I also provided aerial support to the ground teams during an elephant treatment in Mara North Conservancy. The young sub adult bull, which was suffering from a hip wound, was successfully treated by our partner KWS Vet Dr. Njoroge from the SWT Mara Mobile Unit.

The MEP helicopter continues to be a vital tool; however, drones have provided a more low-cost alternative that the organization capitalized on in the first quarter. A special thanks to Romageco Kenya Limited popularly known as ‘Robs Magic’ and Elephant Cooperation for generously supporting MEP with Mavic Enterprise 3 drones in the first quarter. This drones are easy to operate, has a thermal sensor, and a flying time of up to 45 minutes making it a key tool for MEP rangers to respond to conflict especially at night. You can find the drone reports in the Ranger Report section of the quarterly newsletter.

MEP is now officially registered with Companies House in the United Kingdom as Mara Elephant Project UK (MEP UK). As part of our new operations in the UK, I am proud to introduce the MEP UK Board of Trustees, each bringing a wealth of diverse backgrounds and experiences to support MEP’s elephant conservation work. They hosted the first ever UK event in February at the new Broadwick SoHo that saw 50 attendees including MEP’s donors, partners and friends come together for a night full of networking and fun. I addressed the attendees, sharing more about MEP’s operations and impact over the years. The reaction was positive, and the networking sessions proved to be engaging. MEP expresses deep appreciation for the unwavering support and as we look to increase our presence in the UK, we reiterate our firm commitment to protecting Africa’s wildlife, wild spaces and communities.

Finally, a big thanks from the MEP herd to Beate Assmuth-Ong and everyone who joined me and Trustee Kevin Rodrigues in Germany at the Facets of Africa photo exhibition. Visitors had a chance to learn more about MEP’s elephant conservation work and purchase Beate’s stunning prints to support our efforts.