The Mau Forest complex forms the largest canopy forest ecosystem in Kenya and is the single most important water catchment in the Rift Valley and Western Kenya. The elephant carrying capacity of forests in Kenya is heavily threatened by anthropogenic pressures like land encroachment for settlements and forest degradation through grazing, fires, illegal logging for timber, charcoal and firewood, and wildlife poaching. It’s with this in mind, Mara Elephant Project and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) teamed up to start the SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit in January 2018. Now, in the middle of their second year and divided into two teams, the SWT Mau De-Snaring Units continue to be a textbook example of the impact new ranger units can have in an unprotected area. Pictured left: SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit rangers on patrol in the Mau Forest in March.
The SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit fly camp in February.
In the first half of 2019 (January to June), the SWT Mau De-Snaring Units removed 113 snares targeting small animals and nine spears targeting elephants, arrested seven suspects for illegal logging and one for charcoal production, recovered eight timber posts, five Olea Africana posts, 60 cedar posts, 30 white podo timber posts, destroyed five kilns, eight poacher’s camps, 16 charcoal sacks, confiscated one pit saw and seized 70 kg of bushmeat. All of this done while patrolling 3,340 km on foot and 14,752 km by vehicle to ensure the Mau Forest and its wildlife and communities are safe.
Snares collected in January by the SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit.A large bushmeat seizure in May in the Mau Forest.
SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit rangers showing a drop spear targeting elephants in the forest.
An illegal logging arrest in February.
There were 11 total incidents of human-elephant conflict that the SWT Mau De-Snaring Units responded to in this reporting period and, the SWT Mau De-Snaring Units were also required to fight a forest fire that sparked in March. On March 18, the SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit informed the rapid response unit based at MEP HQ that a fire had started the day before in the area of Bosnia and they needed assistance. Along with Kenya Forestry Service and Rhino Ark, they fought the eight fires burning in the Mau with fire beaters day and night. As luck would have it, the fires were moving east toward a watercourse and the fire burned to the river and stopped.
The work the SWT Mau De-Snaring Unit is doing into their second year is critical to increasing the protection of this important area of the Mara ecosystem. Please support their efforts today!