Dr. Jake Wall and The Mara Elephant Project in Masai Mara
Elephanatics’ Director of Communications, Christina Toms, and Chief Scientific Research Advisor, Dr. Jake Wall, have moved to Kenya temporarily.
They are currently in the Masai Mara working towards elephant conservation with The Mara Elephant Project. Using GPS tracking collars and the robust database Dr. Jake Wall developed for Save The Elephants, scientists and ranger groups can track elephants movements in real time. Here are some photos from a recent aerial survey done with The Mara Elephant project.
In photo 1, you can see a big bull elephant with his tracking collar on. The bull looks healthy and it’s always interesting to see if there are any other elephants around, as bulls often travel alone.
In the second photo, you can see a female elephant travelling with her family. It’s much more difficult to count hers than solo elephants from the air. How many do you see?
In the third photo, there is a giant herd we found on the side of a hill. Herds this big require many photos to count them all upon return to your desk. It’s a nuanced situation, as getting closer with the plane or helicopter might make the elephants start running, whereas being too far away makes it difficult to see what’s going on. Thank goodness for zoom lenses! On one hand, it’s lovely to see this many elephants together. On the other, it makes scientists wonder WHY they are sticking so close together. Could it be the threat of human encroachment on their land? This is a growing problem in the Mara.
Aside from counting elephants from the air and ground in Samburu, Tsavo and the Masai Mara, Jake Was also up in the air mapping the new railroad in Kenya to try and identify potential locations for wildlife corridors. (More about this massive railroad project here: http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/mombasa-nairobi-standard-gauge-railway-project) As it is now, elephants and other wildlife have a rough time crossing the highway that runs from Nairobi to Mombasa on the coast. This new railroad will add to the potential dangers they face as they follow their instinctual movement patterns across the country.
There are many people working towards finding solutions for the human-elephant conflict in Kenya, as well as the recent rise in Ivory poaching. The Mara Elephant Project is one small and powerful project that Elephanatics is proud to support. Find out more about them here: http://maraelephantproject.org/