There is so much exciting news to cover, it’s hard to figure out where to start. On World Habitat Day, Mara Elephant Project announced H.S.H. Princess Marie of Liechtenstein as our first Global Patron. In her role as Global Patron, Princess Marie will focus on expanding MEP’s brand and influence internationally to bolster our impact. MEP is thrilled to add Marie’s passion and talents to the organization.
Everyone at MEP is exceptionally honored that Princess Marie will be joining us as our esteemed Patron. Marie’s wealth of experience in business and philanthropy will be invaluable to our aspirations and goals in protecting the Mara’s elephants, greater ecosystems and more importantly in creating sustainable human-wildlife co-existence models. Her passion for Kenya, the people and our wildlife runs deep and we couldn’t think of a better ambassador for MEP.Chairwoman Beatrice Karanja
Then, in November, we announced famous wildlife photographer Jeffrey Wu as the first-ever MEP Image Ambassador. Jeffrey is a Canadian professional wildlife and nature photographer accredited by the Professional Photographers of Canada, a Kenya Tourism Board brand partner and a commercial photographer contracted by Nikon. Jeffrey became a professional wildlife photographer in 2013 shortly after his first trip to Kenya. Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Jeffrey started taking photos at the age of 7, under the direction of his mother, a professional portrait photographer. Jeffrey specializes in African wildlife photography and spends 10 months a year in Kenya and other African countries capturing their beauty. His images and articles have been published in more than 120 publications worldwide. We are beyond thrilled to have two new ambassadors for MEP.
The Greatest Maasai Mara photographer of the year competition came to a close for 2022 and on December 6, the winner was announced during an awards ceremony. Congratulations to photographers Preeti and Prashant Chacko for their winning photograph “Hallelujah”. MEP is grateful to all of the photographers that submitted 197 entries in 2022 to support us. Overall, in 2022, there were over 1,000 entries from 300 photographers and $15,000 was raised for conservation, including a $3,443 donation to MEP directly. We are extremely grateful to be included in this competition every year and thank the Angama Foundation for their continued support of conservation.
An entry in 2022 from Jules Oldroyd Photography.
We had a tremendous amount of support during giving season and there are so many people and organizations to thank. Thank you to the Angama Foundation for their annual $20,000 grant payment that supports MEP. We are so grateful for such a wonderful partner in conservation. Additional thanks to Explorers Against Extinction that partnered with MEP to support our co-existence farm in 2022. Their Sketch for Survival fundraising auction took place in November and featured a fantastic collection of art and photography, and proceeds benefitted their project fund, which supports six projects including MEP. The team from Borås Wildlife Conservation Fund, which included the director of the Borås Djurpark, visited MEP at headquarters in the Mara to discuss our elephant protection activities they generously support. They were staying nearby at Karen Blixen Camp and announced a donation of $5,000 while visiting us. We are thankful for dedicated supporters like the Borås Wildlife Conservation Fund and for visitors to the Mara for coming to see us to learn more about our work.
Kapoeta by Ambica, a luxury collection of handmade jewelry, is supporting MEP by donating 50% of the proceeds from her Conservation Capsule Collection. You can shop her jewelry online or visit her on social media. MEP was a proud recipient of many donations, including from long-time supporter Elephanatics, in December dedicated to supporting the Fran Duthie African Elephant Conservation Scholarship Fund, which supports the development of the next generation of conservation leaders in Kenya by financially contributing toward their education in a conservation related field. Kampur Travel Diaries, a bespoke safari outfit, supports education, conservation, re-forestation and youth development in Kenya with a portion of profits from every safari. They supported the scholarship in December with a donation and committed to a long-term partnership with MEP. We are extremely grateful to Kampur Travel Diaries for their support and look forward to partnering with them into the future.
MEP is proud to announce that we’ve received a World Female Ranger Week grant from How Many Elephants to support the training of female rangers in 2023. World Female Ranger Week was established to amplify the voices of female rangers around the world to support their work protecting wildlife, empowering women and uplifting communities. MEP ranger Caren was the first ever recipient of the World Female Ranger Award, and MEP is grateful to How Many Elephants for this continued acknowledgement of our female ranger’s efforts to protect elephants and their habitats.
A very generous foundation, who requests to remain anonymous, supported the launch of a brand-new ranger team in Mosiro. This support will ensure that we can launch this new team to increase protection by the second quarter of 2023. This will be our ninth ranger team, a big accomplishment for us. We were also humbled to receive a significant gift from the estate of animal lover, Lucy Byrd Pegau, whose conservation legacy continues by supporting MEP’s work. The Marianne Halle Animal Support Foundation, Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation and Leslie L Alexander Foundation have all been long-time supporters of MEP, and we’re extremely grateful for their year-end support. The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence continues their long-term support of MEP’s Research Department by supporting a developer in Kenya dedicated to advancing MEP’s conservation technologies. We also received a grant from Elephant Cooperation, who supported our drone training in 2022 and the purchase of phones to operate drones in conservation. They are a long-standing partner that we’re grateful to have supporting our conservation efforts.
On December 10, the 3rd annual Ultra MARAthon took place in the Maasai Mara. Over 230 runners including 65 relay teams ran alongside wildlife to support the efforts of Mara Elephant Project, Africa Mission Services and local conservancy rangers. MEP ranger Stanley Momposhi made us proud by bringing home the silver medal after running the entire 50 km (miles) course. Thank you to everyone who participated to support conservation and thank you to all of the tourist partners that provided logistical support and to all of the sponsors including Platcorp Foundation and Platinum Credit Kenya.
Jeffrey Wu Photography
Finally, we can’t end this update without thanking artist Leslie Cline and Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Leslie graciously donated her elephant artwork for our holiday note card promotion and Thanksgiving Coffee Company gave away free bags of Protect Our Elephants coffee to major donors. Also thank you to Madde Goss for working so hard on an amazing drawing of MEP rangers protecting elephants that we featured in our Merry Christmas message.
We also joined TikTok, you can follow us at @maraelephantproject.