On January 19 Mara Elephant Project received a call from the Warden of the Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) to assist him in locating an injured bull elephant that had been reported. MEP CEO flew the Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari Robinson R44 helicopter with the warden as a passenger and searched for 30 minutes looking for the injured elephant. Although the male bull elephant was in the middle of the MMNR, he had come from the Ololoolo Escarpment where there were recent reports of crop raiding.
They found him in a small clump of croton scrub on a hill, landed the helicopter and waited for the MMNR ground team to arrive. MEP’s helicopter allows for the rapid response to elephants in crisis. It’s the perfect tool in MEP’s HEC Toolkit for helping an elephant in need immediately.
At this point the monitoring of the elephant was left to the ground team, who called in the Kenya Wildlife Service/David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust vet Dominic Mijele to treat the elephant. The crude spear that was pulled from the injured elephant was a steel round bar that had been sharpened, and had penetrated two to three feet into the unlucky bull elephant. Once the spear was removed, the injured bull was back on his feet and the vet had given an encouraging prognosis; however, this young male will continue to be monitored by the MMNR rangers over the next few weeks as he recovers.
Unfortunately, on January 24, Mara Triangle received a report that a carcass of a young bull elephant was near Iseiya Station. Upon further investigation it was discovered that this bull was the elephant treated for the spear wound. The postmortem revealed that the spear had penetrated 40 cm. deep into the peritoneal cavity and the liver, which caused the elephant to suffer severe peritonitis and succumbed to its injury after crossing the river into the Mara Triangle.
Though not the outcome MEP hopes for, this is a realistic picture of what MEP is dealing with on a daily basis in the Mara with dwindling wildlife habitat, severe drought and human-elephant conflict on the rise.
After leaving the bull elephant in the hands of the MMNR rangers, MEP had to respond in the helicopter to our collared elephants, Ivy and Fred, who were crop raiding in the Olosukut Forest. Ivy and Fred’s lives were possibly saved by MEP’s rapid response, but unfortunately not every elephant is as lucky. The conflict isn’t slowing down and neither is MEP.