To be successful in sustaining our mission over the long term, MEP must 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 must 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. It’s with this in mind that MEP looks to improve attitudes, practices and policies towards wildlife.
MEP is constantly striving to build our brand awareness and raise our 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 improved attitudes towards wildlife, communities and habitat protection in the Maasai Mara. Additionally, 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 are developed and used to advance MEPs objectives.
Mara Elephant Project has developed strategic partnerships with local organizations to enable us to engage the communities living in the Mara. MEP partners with Seedballs Kenya to help reforest the Mara in some of the areas devastated by illegal charcoal production and logging. Many generous donors have given MEP seed balls to distribute via the helicopter and to send along with MEP rangers units to use while out on patrol.
MEP has also developed a strategic partnership with the Maa Trust who works with communities living on the borders of wildlife conservancies in the Mara. The Maa Trust supports a number of community development projects including primary school bursaries, water harvesting for schools, community water points, school infrastructure development, supplying textbooks, wildlife education projects, and health projects. A core message of the Maa Trust “Esiaai Tenkaraki Ing’uesi” – “Work because of the wildlife” meaning that for all projects they engage in, it is clearly communicated that the project is happening because of the wildlife. The Maa Trust has developed a beading project and honey harvesting project which engages 500 women surrounding the Olare Orok Conservancy earning additional income for women who are not often given income generating activities in a male dominated culture.
As MEP addresses the poaching activities and human-elephant conflict incidents in these areas, we plan to influence the community’s attitude toward wildlife by developing projects which we tie directly to harmoniously living with wildlife and the benefits that accrue to the local community as a result of the wildlife and associated tourism.
“We started as primarily anti-poaching but we’re now moving into developing communities. Why? Because all of those people in the community are stakeholders in protecting elephants and Mara Elephant Project is trying to give them an avenue to play a part in elephant conservation.” Marc Goss, CEO, Mara Elephant Project