The Mara Elephant Project

MEP was established in 2011 with the mission of protecting this iconic keystone species and their habitats across the Greater Mara Ecosystem.

In 2016 human-wildlife conflict began to emerge as the number one threat to both wildlife and communities in the Mara. As space diminishes, tensions are rising between communities and wildlife, especially elephants who can break through a fence and wipe out an entire field of crops overnight leaving a family with nothing to eat or sell for the entire year. Whilst it’s critical for key habitats to remain intact to support Kenya’s wildlife, it’s also important that communities living alongside them feel protected and connected to the Mara. MEPs rapid-response teams are tasked with immediately reacting to and mitigating these intense conflict situations in order to protect their neighbour’s farms from crop raiding elephants.

Their vast undercover intelligence network has been at the center of key poacher arrests and ivory seizures for almost a decade. While ivory poaching in the Masai Mara has thankfully been diminished, bushmeat poaching using snares is on the rise. MEP has permanent ranger teams operating in key forest areas to combat this new problem. These teams are not only addressing bushmeat poaching by arresting poachers, confiscating bushmeat, and removing snares, but they are also focused on the increasing habitat destruction activities in these precious forest habitats. The year 2020 saw the highest level of habitat destruction in the history of MEP. Despite mounting issues arising from the long-term effects of the pandemic, their rangers are working hard to safeguard elephant habitat day and night.

 

 

Elephant collars enable MEP to not only monitor the elephants movements in real-time and react to protect them, but also help to determine the extent of their range. The collected data is used to inform future spatial plans that protect the ecosystem’s biodiversity and to explain why elephants move the way they do, leading to long-term solutions for conflict. Their long-term monitoring team is a key element to ensuring that MEP better understands the overall population of elephants living in the GME and how these animals use the limited space that they have.