Mara Elephant Conservation Helicopter Project


Mara Elephant Helicopter Program

We work closely with our partner, the Mara Elephant Project (MEP), to protect the savanna elephants, who are threatened by poaching for the illegal ivory trade, climate change, and an increasing number of human-elephant conflicts.


The savanna elephants

The savanna elephants that live in the Maasai Mara are the largest subspecies of elephant. Their extra large ears and longer front legs distinguish them from the other species of elephants.

It is now estimated that an elephant is poached every 15 minutes in Africa. At this rate, African elephants will be extinct in 10-15 years. In 2013 alone, 35,000 African elephants were poached.




The human population in the Maasai Mara region has grown by 7% per year for the last 16 years, which is three times the national Kenyan average of 2.5%. The consequence is that more people are living in the rangelands of elephants, which leads to increasing incidences of human-elephant conflicts.

More people living in the Maasai Mara means the takeover of more land used for farming and infrastructural developments like roads, railways and pipelines. Therefore, most of the land traditionally home to elephants has been privatized and separated into title deeds for individuals. Elephants are being squeezed into conflict areas and are raiding crops and food stores, and damaging village infrastructure and water sources as they have less access to their historical habitat. As a result, resentment against elephants has increased and they are too often killed in retaliation. This situation has been described by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as, “The most important perceived threat is the loss and fragmentation of habitat caused by ongoing human population expansion and rapid land conversion.”




Cooperation with Mara Elephant Project (MEP)

MEP surveys elephant movements through the use of elephant-friendly GPS collars. The tracking collars enable them to monitor elephant movements (or lack of movement) in near real time. The data collected helps inform their strategy behind ranger deployment for anti-poaching efforts and human-elephant conflict avoidance. Please see the link below to learn more information about the work that is done through use of the Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter.


The Only Helicopter in the Mara

You can read additional information about the crisis faced by the elephants and the important work done by the Mara Elephant Project at


How you can contribute

You can support this important wildlife conservation work by donating funds for gasoline and maintenance of the Karen Blixen Camp Trust helicopter.


Watch film

Here you can watch two films which follows a rescue operation for a poached elephant and an elephant push operation. Click on the picture to watch the film.



Rescue operation for poached elephant. Click to watch.                                      Elephant pushed out of Mararianta Centre. Click to watch.