Mara Elephant Project has developed strategic partnerships with local organizations to enable us to engage the communities living in the Mara. In 2018, MEP partnered with Seedballs Kenya to help reforest the Mara in some of the areas devastated by illegal charcoal production and logging. Many generous donors gave MEP seed balls to distribute via the helicopter and to send along with MEP rangers units to use while out on patrol. In addition to this distribution of over 65 kg of seed balls, on November 28, MEP along with the Seedballs Kenya distributed one million seed balls along with the community’s help in an area of the Mara hard hit by charcoal production. This is a community engagement project that was very beneficial to the habitat upon which elephants depend.
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.
“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
Additionally, MEP works in the Rekero, Ol Donyo Erinka and Ole Moncho areas, which have been some of the worst poaching hotspots and continue to be HEC hotspots. In these areas are three primary schools: Ole Moncho Primary School, Rekero Primary School, and Ngoswani Primary School with a total of 1,117 children. All three schools share some basic needs including potable water, security, energy for cooking, lighting, classroom space, sanitation facilities, classroom furniture and textbooks for all the children. In 2017, MEP planted a sustainable wood lot at Ngoswani Primary School to provide shade and fuel for students and staff. Starting in 2018, MEP pays for a girl’s school fees at boarding school as well as her books and uniform after she was injured by an elephant in 2017 in an incident where MEP was the first responder. In 2019, MEP sponsored two brand new toilet facilities at the Ngosuani Primary School. The toilet blocks, which MEP donated to the school, are built from re-purposed shipping containers and provide a safe and healthy environment for the boys and girls attending the school.
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.