The Transmara side of the Mara River has been a conflict hotspot for a long time because farming comes right up to the banks of the Mara River and on the other side of the river is the Mara North Conservancy, creating an easily accessible spot for elephants to cross from the safety of the conservancy into farms and get back with ease. This area also happens to be quite close to MEP HQ. While our rangers and the Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter are often responding to conflict in this area, there have been some more notable incidents in recent years. We collared a female elephant candidate named Courtney in this area in October 2016 in response to her conflict with the community and treated by the Kenya Wildlife Service vet for 12 arrow wounds after habitual crop raiding activity. It’s also the same place where in October 2018, MEP successfully pushed a herd out with the KBCT helicopter and Dr. Limo again treated the worst hit female elephant by pulling out 20 arrows. pictured left: elephants crossing the river after being in farmland.
Dr. Limo operating on the female hit by 20 arrows in October 2018.
Since the Transmara is such a hotspot for conflict, MEP and KWS have been working with the community and MEP hired two informants in the area to notify us when elephants crossed into farms. This has been working very well and the result has been that we get real-time reports of such incidents before the conflict escalates. For example, on the 29 of March, MEP got a call from one of our informants to report that a lone bull elephant has been stranded in the farming community in Transmara. The elephant had gone across the river at night to crop raid and heavy rains prevailed the whole night which made the river uncrossable, even for a full-grown elephant. When the community woke up and found a large elephant in their farms, they started gathering to chase him away.
This is where MEP, KWS and the community’s agreement helped. The area chiefs agreed with their community members that if elephants do come into the area and we had hired people from there to report incidents, that they would not retaliate. This worked well yesterday with the exception that the KBCT helicopter couldn’t push the elephant across the river because it was dangerously high. Instead, we had to use the helicopter to push him through a number of farms to the south and in the height of the action several farmers not included in the agreement got too close and the elephant charged them resulting in them shooting several arrows. We did eventually successfully push him into Olosukut Conservancy and are monitoring him closely for any medical treatment needed.
The elephant from the March 29 conflict.