Since 2011, the Mara Elephant Project has been playing a critical on the ground role in defending the Mara’s elephants from poachers and responding to human-elephant conflict. The rangers of MEP are local people given long-term employment and the skills to be protectors and stewards for Kenya’s irreplaceable ecosystem.
“WHEN IT IS REPORTED THAT SOMEONE HAS KILLED WILDLIFE IN A CERTAIN AREA, WE ARE THE ONES TO RESPOND. WHEN ELEPHANTS ARE SEEN, WE ARE THE ONES TO RUN TO THEM. WE HAVE BECOME THE LARGEST DEFENSE FORCE IN ALL OF THE MARA THAT GUARDS THE WHOLE AREA.” James Ekiru, Senior Warden, Mara Elephant Project
MEP has deployed a total of 57 rangers in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 2018 supported a permanent ranger unit in the Mau Forest, adding six new rangers to our formidable team, a far cry from the eight rangers we started with in 2011. Since 2011, MEP and the Kenya Wildlife Service have arrested 354 total poachers.
A poacher is only one piece of the puzzle, a term most commonly known and used in today’s world; however, MEP arrests more than just poachers. The 354 total arrests accounts for all wildlife criminals meaning poachers, middlemen and ivory dealers. It takes more than just a poacher to get the ivory out into the market, so we focus on taking gathering intelligence and arresting all participating parties along the way.
MEP employs three highly trained intelligence officers who have been at the center of the arrests that have resulted in the seizure of 1,493 kilograms or 3,291.5 pounds of ivory.
MEP’s boots on the ground presence has increased the opportunity cost of poaching in the Mara.