We give a percentage of our profits to an incredible project that protects Africa’s gentle giants – here’s why.
There’s nothing like seeing elephants in the wild. I’ve been lucky enough to encounter them many times. I’ve held my breath as they’ve tramped past my vehicle, almost close enough to touch. I’ve giggled at them splashing about in mud baths. I’ve teared up, recognising the fiercely nurturing and protective behaviours of a new mother. They’re the gentle giants of the bush. So immense and powerful. Yet also so sensitive, so playful – and so vulnerable.
According to the WWF, around 90% of African elephants have been wiped out in the past century, largely due to the ivory trade. Which is why the work of the Mara Elephant Project is so vital. And it gets our full support.
The Mara Elephant Project (MEP) launched in 2011. Its mission is to protect elephants and their habitats across the Greater Mara Ecosystem; its hope is to help create a stable and healthy population of these amazing animals that co-exists peacefully with local communities.
It’s not an easy goal. But the MEP is doing incredible things. Founded in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service and other community conservancies and conservation organisations, it’s able to efficiently analyse and protect large areas. And it does this by training male and female Maasai to be rangers. More than 80 have been trained so far; they act as the front-line of defence in the landscape of their birth – their local knowledge vitally important to the projects success. Huge strides have already been made in deterring poachers, with hundreds arrested and thousands of kilos of ivory seized.
The MEP also supports the Sheldrick Trust, the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation project in the world – 98% of elephants brought here are successfully released back into the wild. The tireless work of the Sheldrick team is so inspiring – seeing the rescued elephants never fails to pull the heartstrings.
But MEP’s work isn’t just about hands-on elephant protection. It’s about people. For a start, the project offers skilled work opportunities for the Maasai, enabling them to financially support their families. But more than that, the MEP rangers become ambassadors within their communities. They share their knowledge and passion, igniting a flame in local young people, inspiring them to want to protect wildlife themselves. The rangers are kickstarting a societal change.
And what could be better than combining active efforts to improve the current situation for elephants but also educating the next generation of conservationists?
It’s an incredible project – check out their work and donate here.