On March 14, while the UK was celebrating mothering Sunday, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Mara Elephant Project successfully collared two key female elephants in areas where more data collection and protection are needed.
The first female, Clara, was part of a herd of over 50 elephants located along the Sand River, which runs between two key MEP and KWS operational areas, the Loita Hills and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Clara’s movement data provides MEP and KWS with the opportunity to monitor and understand transborder elephant corridors, the obstacles that pose a threat to the connectivity, the impact they have on elephants and how elephants respond to these land use dynamics. Her movements will be combined with collared elephant Harriet, collared in 2020, to give MEP and KWS a detailed understanding of the connectivity between these two areas and how elephants are using the Sand River corridor. Keeping this corridor open and providing elephants and other wildlife connectivity, especially during times of drought, is crucial to their protection, and this new collared female elephant will help give MEP the data to do just that.
CEO Marc Goss with KWS Vet Dr. Limo and Griet who supported the protection of Clara.
The second female elephant candidate, Josephine, was collared in the Shompole area in a herd of over 100 elephants. This area sits between the Loita Hills and the Southern Rift Valley and provides an important connection for elephants. Josephine’s movements will be combined with Napoleon and Hannibal who are often found in Mosiro to give a better, broader picture of how elephants move into Loita but there is a gap in information about the exact corridor they use to get to Loita Forest and Shompole from Mosiro. The Mosiro and Shompole areas are hot and dry, and the day of the collaring operation was no exception. It was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the ground while the team was operating; however, despite the heat, everything went smoothly with the assistance of MEP’s leased helicopter.
The team in front of the leased MEP helicopter.
MEP and KWS have collaring and elephant tracking goals that align with the National Elephant Action Plan as we aim to understand elephant movements, promote human-elephant co-existence and protect the habitat based on accurate near-real-time information. The generated information from these collared elephants will aid in the development of the ongoing Narok County Spatial Plan and the Greater Maasai Mara Management Plan as well as inform on habitat use and wildlife corridors. Left: Dr. Limo fitting the collar.
Clara’s protection for the next three years is generously supported by Griet Van Malderen, a true champion of conservation and Africa. We were delighted to have Griet join us for Clara’s collaring operation. What a way to celebrate Women’s History Month!
Griet helping the team fit the collar on Clara.
Griet is a very accomplished wildlife photographer, so we asked her to take some shots of Clara’s collaring operation. Check out her work here.