The Only Helicopter in the Mara

Thanks to the generosity of Karen Blixen Camp and Ree Park Safari, Mara Elephant Project operates the only helicopter in the Mara. MEP has had use of the helicopter since 2015 and through this has been able to expand our operation area for rapid response to poaching, injured wildlife, and conflict by 4,000 km2.

MEP CEO Marc Goss piloting the helicopter to move elephants to safety. 

The helicopter is an essential tool in our human-elephant conflict toolkit and works well in coordination with flash bangs and soon unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, it supports our collaring and monitoring efforts by making the collaring of at-risk elephants safer for both the elephant and support team. We are also able to complete monthly monitoring flights that not only ensures the elephant’s safety and well being but also helps us collect important data like herd size and health.

A MEP collared elephant being monitored from the helicopter. 

Though MEP rangers are the backbone of our organization, the helicopter provides them with aerial support in difficult human-elephant conflict mitigate situations. We are able to locate crop-raiding elephants faster and provide a much-needed distraction from the elephant while our boots on the ground guide them to safety.

Farmers watching the helicopter rapidly respond to a crop raiding elephant.

The benefits of having access to the helicopter has not only directly helped MEP, but many other organizations in the Mara as well. Having the only helicopter in the Mara has allowed us to create more partnerships within the Mara for example, we’ve increased our partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mobile Vet Unit to respond to injured animals over a much larger area. Another great benefit for the Mara is that MEP is able to quickly and effectively help anyone injured during a human-wildlife conflict situation and get them to treatment as soon as possible. In a smaller capacity, we are also helping investigate and treat other injured or deceased animals in the Mara such as giraffes and buffalo.

DSWT Vet Dr. Limo watching the MEP helicopter herd an injured elephant to him for treatment.

So, when you support MEP’s Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari helicopter, you’re really supporting the welfare and continued conservation of the Mara and every organization that strives to protect it’s precious people, wildlife and ecosystem.