To be successful in sustaining our mission over the long term, MEP will take a robust and structured approach to using the available evidence to influence key decision-makers at the local, regional and national level within government, civil society organizations and local communities. MEP is not be able to demonstrate to individuals, government and communities the social, economic and environmental importance of protecting elephants as a keystone species and show the longer-term benefits they will enjoy as a result without an expanded partnership network.
Since 2011, MEP has established a strong working relationship with key partners such as the Kenya Wildlife Service, local community leaders, local schools, Narok County Government (NCG), Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA), Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), conservation partners including Save The Elephants, ElephantVoices, Mara North Conservancy and camps such as Richard’s Camp, Karen Blixen Camp and Angama Mara.
MEP has been engaging with the KWS on a provincial and national level in Kenya to ensure that MEP is in compliance with and adding to the National Elephant Action Plan (NEAP). The NEAP framework was developed by IUCN and detailed in the “Conservation and Management Strategy for the Elephant in Kenya 2012-2021” authored by KWS. MEP believes it is critical to fit-in and contribute to the national elephant strategy plan and as such MEP has identified its key roles in delivering against the strategy. MEP is also part of the Area Elephant Management Committee that meets quarterly to report on developments in our areas of operation, share ideas and align with the NEAP objectives. The other committee members include Kenya Forestry Service officers, Kenya Wildlife Service officers from Ramoi NP, Maasai Mara, Transmara, Baringo, the elephant program, county governments and key NGO partners. MEP aligns with a number of the NEAP objectives which defines our mandate in elephant conservation. Sharing these with our government partners and working together to achieve them is an important part of informing policy and building support.
Utilizing data collected properly in the form of reports that are developed and presented as joint publications along with our partners, will further MEP’s capacity to advance our objectives and ensure the proposals, recommendations and views of MEP are included and represented at key meetings. Similarly, relationships and opportunities to inform and influence key officials and decision-makers at the local, regional and national level within different branches of government will be developed and used to advance MEPs objectives.
In 2018, MEP looked to raise our brand awareness and profile with an international audience in hopes of seeing a correlation between our communications and fundraising efforts. The increase in exposure for MEP has been wonderful for our organization from not only a fundraising standpoint but it directly contributes to partnership development and overall brand awareness. Key to increasing MEP’s exposure has been the newly implemented exclusive visitor experience with pre-vetted camps around the Mara. The objective of these visits, in equal measure, is (i) to educate visitors to the Mara about the importance of elephants to the ecosystem, the threats they face, and efforts being undertaken to protect them; and (ii) to raise funds, through donations, to support the operations of MEP.
Developing an experience that allows visitors to the Mara to have a unique experience that connects for them the what, how, and why is the future of conservation funding. Camps around the Mara are very interested in giving their guests an experience that brings their trip full circle, and Mara Elephant Project, being the only boots on the ground conservation organization operating in the Mara is their ticket to providing this experience. MEP has found that the camps are just as committed to the conservation of the Mara and we mutually understand that educating visitors about this precious ecosystem is an essential part of their experience if they are to be conservation advocates after they’ve left.