Thanks to all of you, Mara Elephant Project ended our 10th year of operation setting a new fundraising record that sets up the organization for success over the next decade. MEP was featured in the December issue of National Geographic magazine, which was released online and to subscribers in late November. CEO Marc Goss and the ranger’s efforts in the Nyakweri Forest alongside our partners was featured in the article “Beyond what tourists see, a rich Maasai culture with many challenges”. Additionally, a map using data from the MEP Research Department was featured in the “The Unlikely King” article.
The photo featured in National Geographic’s December issue by Charlie Hamilton James.
MEP’s Conservation Officer Wilson Sairowua attended an outreach workshop for the movie The Elephant Queen. While attending the conference, Wilson was able to participate in discussions and had his first viewing of The Elephant Queen, which is being shown all over Kenya right now in a mobile cinema unit. The mobile cinema unit and engagement team will be visiting 10 schools in the Mara and plan to show the film and engage the children in activities to nurture pride in Kenya’s wildlife. MEP is a proud partner of this initiative, and we look forward to participating more soon.
In November, we were delighted to host Holly Budge, co-founder of World Female Ranger Week and founder of How Many Elephants. MEP was so happy to have Holly join us to see the hard work of our inclusive Kenyan staff firsthand. The Nobelity Project has generously supported MEP for several years, so we were delighted to welcome founders Turk and Christy Pipkin for a visit in November. Thank you to the Nobelity Project for their support of MEP over the years. Turk and Christy threw out some seedballs with MEP’s long-term monitoring (LTM) team. In October, MEP received another donation of 100 kg of seedballs from Seedballs Kenya courtesy of Explorers Against Extinction. The SAWA Shop is a loyal supporter of MEP, giving back 5% of yearly sales to elephant conservation. This brand of travel bags and accessories is made to order in Kenya and features anything you’d need for life’s journey. Thank you to SAWA for supporting MEP in 2021. Better Safaris has launched their new website, which includes a safari that 100% supports MEP. We look forward to growing this partnership in the new year.
On December 1, The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year was crowned for 2021. Sponsored by the Angama Foundation, this competition invites wildlife photographers from all over the world to submit their best shots from the Maasai Mara and support their favorite conservation organization with the entry fee. MEP had 225 entries this year in support of our efforts and of those, 13 were finalists out of 50 total. Congratulations are in order for photographer Harry Collins with his shot “Once in a Lifetime” for winning the grand prize of $10,000 and a 5-night stay at Angama Mara. Harry’s guide Jimmy from Wild Eye Mara Camp also won a trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa. Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to every single photographer who submitted to support MEP in 2021. Their entry fees alongside Angama Foundation’s support donated $3,021 to MEP operations. If you like what you see, you can buy a print to support conservation here.
The Angama Foundation also generously agreed to support the protection of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) and MEP collared elephant “Fitz”, who they originally supported in 2019. He was fitted with his new collar in December and their renewed support will continue his protection for another three years. The Indianapolis Zoological Society supported the protection of a newly collared female elephant by KWS, WRTI and MEP on November 19 named “Indy”.
The second annual Ultra MARAthon was a huge success on December 4 with 54 relay teams participating this year. 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.
Asilia Africa and Asilia Giving generously supported the MEP LTM team with a $2,500 gift and a commitment to support even more in 2022. MEP received a $20,000 grant from Google for the research department. Thank you for the $541 donation from Foreningen Forsvara Elefanterna, a long-time supporter, and support from Bush Babies school that sold cupcakes and toys locally to raise money for MEP.
In the fourth quarter, MEP Kenya Trust and the Sidekick Foundation, Inc. in the U.S. received over $900,000 in donations in support of MEP operations. This included the annual grant from OAK Foundation as well as support from the Jane B. Donahue of the Kasper Pilibosian Charitable Foundation Inc., the Zoback Family Charitable Fund, Heidi Nitze, the Edith M Schoenborn Trust, Charlotte Ann Shea, Carl Haefling, George Loening, The Riggio Foundation, William Buffett, Barbara Davis, Nancy Hawkes, Noel Holub, Wendy Martinson, Thomas Norwood, Scott Stekler, Linda Taylor, Mary Love, the Marianne H. Halle Animal Support Foundation, Inc., Barbara Magin, Pamela Simons, Peter Farrell, Josephine Wardle, Birgit Henninger, the Glynis Burgdorff Family Charitable Fund, the Metropoulos Family Foundation, Byrne Whitehead, Bonnie Frownfelter, Donna Barlow, Jack Bleck, David Borecky, Jennifer Denyse, Ellen Jacobson, Donna Korkes, Richard Litkenhaus, Lili Pearson and Kenneth Spitler. As well as quarterly support from the Leslie L. Alexander Foundation and support from many loyal donors including Sue Anschutz Rodgers and the Nicholas & Gardiner Lapham Family Fund. Thank you to the WWW Foundation from Win Rhodes, Frederic & Jeanne Groos, Douglas Allred, Lincoln Howell, the Mallory Hathaway Charitable Fund, Rhonda Sanderson, the Amy & Bart Peterson Foundation, Richard Schiff, the Edith MacGuire Charitable Trust, Sy Blechman, Roland & Joyce Bryan, Jes Lefcourt, Bruce Reichardt, the Pepper Family, Michele Roberts, Valerie Doyle, Joyce Selfman, Barbara Pope, Austin Marxe, Susan Tolbert, Karen & Jim Truettner, Deryl Santosuosso, Susan Cutter, Virginia Perez, Debra Shearer, Michael Wagner, Steven Ashelin, Pierre Schlemel, the Suzanne Butler Trust, Lesley Arnold, Elizabeth Searle, Cornelius & Angela Bliss, Joselow Foundation, Patricia Burbank & Michael Kilgroe, Dr. Quentin Regestein, John Holly, Christie Burk, Angela Crisler, Ricardo Mayoral, Joseph Davison, James Edward Cain, Randolph Lipchik, John Konopka, Carol Adragna, Avadhesh Agarewal, Scott Cadenhead, Theresa Daniel, Bruce Debell, Valerie Doyle, KLM Foundation, Ann McKinney, Margarita Romano, Jeremy Lang and Mary Vero for your end of year support. We also had three Facebook fundraisers in support of MEP; thank you to Frank, Natalie, Valerie and Julianne for your support.
Finally, we wanted to end the year with an exciting announcement about a new scholarship fund starting in 2022 funded by Fran and Lorne Duthie. The Fran Duthie African Conservation Scholarship will be open to Kenyan applicants in March 2022. Stay tuned for more details. Fran and Lorne gave an initial installment of $8,500 to launch this scholarship.