Mara Elephant Project had significant contributions and plenty of good news to share to close out 2017. In October, an individual donor generously gave the full $26,000 amount to collar, monitor and collect data for three years on a critically endangered elephant in the Mau Forest. Since she contributed this full amount she was able to name the elephant “Nancy” after her sister who passed away.
Nancy spotted in December with her herd of 60 in the Mau Forest.
This would be a good time to remind people that MEP is actively raising money for elephant collars in 2018. Not only do we need to collar two new elephants in the western portion of the Mau Forest, but we also need to re-collar eight of our most at-risk elephants in 2018. The collars have been essential to protecting these elephants over the last three years, but the battery life is up in 2018, and an upgrade is needed. Elephants Lucy, Hugo, Kegol, Chelsea, Caroline, Naibosho, Shorty, & Fred all currently have collars that provide data which is used daily to mitigate human-elephant conflict, inform ranger deployment and anti-poaching work and promote transboundary cooperation within the wider ecosystem. The collar software also includes alarms for MEP to respond to elephant immobility and geo-fence breaches and streaks (when an elephant moves quickly potentially signifying it is in danger). Starting at $1,500 and going all the way up to $26,000 you can make a difference! Contact Claire Bolles if you’re interested in hearing more.
MEP’s newest collared elephant Earhart, named after the famed aviator Amelia.
OAK Foundation has pledged to provide funding for some core operational costs for a four-year period. We’re in contact with them to work out the details but are excited about this partnership.
MEP also had a grant from TUSK Trust come through and a nice sized donation from TUSK as a result of the funds raised at the Safaricom Marathon 2017 (pictured left).
In November, MEP, ironically, had a stroke of luck when the U.S. President presented a lift on the ban of ivory imports. There was an outcry nationally that raised the level of awareness of the general public and put elephant conservation organizations like MEP and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, one of MEP’s partners, in the national conversation. TV star Ellen DeGeneres started a #bekindtoelephants social media campaign that MEP was able to capitalize on. This paired with MEP’s #GivingTuesday campaign that highlighted our partners, Expert Drones, Elephanatics and The Maa Trust resulted in over 60,000 reaches and 300 likes on our Facebook page. It was extremely inspiring for us to see people we didn’t know raising money for MEP through the Facebook campaign platform. This type of grassroots movement and support really exemplifies what makes working in this field special.
The video of MEP’s first pachyderm passenger in the helicopter has created a big buzz for the organization as has the 2018 photography competition from the Angama Foundation called “The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year.” It includes a major prize for the winner so be sure to enter and select “Mara Elephant Project” as the beneficiary of your entry fee.
In December, MEP had our very first pop star visitor, Ellie Goulding, who stayed over at MEP HQ in her role as an ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. She used her extensive social media influence and posted about MEP on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which really boosted our following. We’re hoping to gain more exposure from this visit on World Wildlife Day in March. More to come on that.
Pop star Ellie Goulding in the Mara.
We are beginning 2018 with an exciting development, MEP is now offering a tourist experience at MEP HQ. For a minimum donation of $100 per adult, you and your family can venture to MEP HQ and learn about the important work we’re doing to protect elephants to conserve the greater Mara ecosystem. You’ll meet MEP rangers, see an elephant collar, learn about our collar tracking system and unmanned aerial vehicle operation and get a tour of MEP HQ to see the helicopter. Both camps (Kicheche Mara Camp) and tourism companies (Extraordinary Journeys) have expressed interest in MEP HQ visits.
Finally, MEP would like to announce the departure of Development Director Victoria Fanthorpe. We appreciate her work with MEP in 2017 and wish her the best of luck in her endeavors moving forward. We would like to thank the Iris O’Brien Foundation for their generous support of this position. If you have any questions moving forward please contact Claire Bolles.