Published on the 2nd of January, 2020
In 2018 the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust partnered with the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) to establish a new ranger force to patrol the Mau Forest, in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Fully-funded by the SWT, the team was formed in response to the threats of poaching and illegal logging that were taking a heavy toll on this forest, which is both the largest indigenous montane forest in East Africa and largest drainage basin in Kenya. The forest is also home to some 650 elephants and the Mau Team plays a direct role in safeguarding this local elephant population, protecting individuals from poaching and mitigating human-elephant conflict.
Between January and November 2019, the SWT/MEP Mau Team confiscated more than 900 cedar wood posts (carved from trees in the forest), 76 bags of charcoal, and almost 200 snares set to catch and kill wildlife. The team has also destroyed more than 40 charcoal kilns and played a role in arresting over 25 suspects for charges of illegal logging, charcoal burning and poaching. Actions that have enhanced the protection of this critical region, however, they have also worked to demonstrate the need to do more.
The Mau Forest covers a vast area, much of which is almost impenetrable forest, where boots on the ground provide the most effective means to patrolt. Results of the original Mau Team, reports from MEP and the Trust's own aerial recces made it evident more needed to be done and late last year the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust committed to funding a second Mau Team. In October 2019 MEP ran a selection process for the new SWT unit and the nine successful cadets then undertook a six-week training course run by MEP and Narok County Government officers.
Training complete, the new ranger team was fully deployed on 20th December 2019, doubling the anti-poaching presence in the Mau Forest and ensuring that henceforth this vital ecosystem and all the life it supports will be afforded greater protection.
Collaborative efforts of this nature allow the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to extend our reach into vital ecosystems, where Kenyan partners like Mara Elephant Project have a field base from where they can direct and manage all day-to-day operations, with direct support from us. These partnerships are essential to ensuring Kenya’s wildlife, habitats and communities have a secure future.