The TUSK Trust 2018 Safaricom Marathon at LEWA Wildlife Conservancy will take place on Saturday, June 30. What began as a comparatively small event in 2000 with 180 runners raising $50,000 has grown exponentially to over 1,300 runners in 2017 raising $700,000. To date the marathon has raised a total of $7 million for conservation and community development projects across Kenya. This unique marathon is exceptional in many ways – it combines an unusual fundraising initiative with one of Kenya’s greatest sporting passions, running.
Mara Elephant Project is fortunate enough to be the recipient of runner’s support from the TUSK Safaricom Marathon. Funding received from the LEWA Safaricom Marathon in 2017 contributed to MEP rangers arresting 24 ivory middlemen with 176 kg of elephant ivory recovered in areas as far as Meru, and Nairobi.
MEP’s ranger teams are the core of our boots on the ground initiatives that protect elephants in the Mara ecosystem and the communities who live alongside them. Rangers operate in challenging circumstances in the field undertaking a high level of risk, so it is vital that they have the necessary skills, training and equipment including effective communication and monitoring tools to enable them to do their job safely. In 2017, the Safaricom grant allowed MEP to purchase ranger equipment for patrol teams; provided iPhones for all managers and trained rangers on using the Save The Elephants Tracking App for iOS procedures and protocols including teaching rangers to record patrols on GPS devices, on written reports and their smartphones; refresh ranger tactical and medical training. This contributed to MEP’s ability to deploy rangers daily to monitor collared elephants on the ground and respond to collar alerts including geo-fence incursions around farms and settlements; deploy rapid response units to respond to incidents of human-elephant conflict; deploy the intelligence unit on undercover operations including infiltrating poaching gangs and working with community informants.
We are proud to report that the Percentage of Illegally Killed Elephants (PIKE) decreased from 49% in 2016 to 44% in 2017 and the total number of dead elephants decreased from 47 in 2016 to 34 in 2017. MEP’s target set in our three-year strategy of a PIKE figure at or below 50% in 2017 was achieved earlier than expected thanks to support from TUSK Trust’s Safaricom Marathon.
You don’t have to be running in the 2018 Safaricom Marathon to help #ProtectOurFuture! Help us do more by donating.