Tusk Trust - Mali Elephant Project © Carlton Ward

Mali Elephant Project

Established in 2003, the Mali Elephant Project (MEP) protects a unique population of 550 sub-desert elephants.

These animals survive in the arid landscape by making the largest annual elephant migration in Africa. But human activity is increasingly impeding this migration and degrading the habitat, and incidences of conflict are escalating. The area also suffers from severe political insecurity and overstretched law enforcement, making the elephants especially vulnerable to poaching. In January 2017 it was estimated that if poaching was not reduced the entire population could be wiped out by 2021.

MEP brings together diverse clans and ethnicities in the local communities to collectively establish natural resource management systems agreed by all. These systems not only protect the elephant migration route, they also improve the quality of natural resources by reversing destructive practices, creating additional value and income for local people. At the same time, the project has worked with central government and the military to establish Mali’s first anti-poaching unit. Poaching incidents fell dramatically within the first months of operation. This is supported by the local community as it improves security in the area and helps to safeguard the ecosystem that provides their livelihoods.

Tusk funding has supported the community-based resource management work and helped to train and mobilise the anti-poaching unit, which can act on information provided by the project’s community information networks. The 12-man team deals with poaching situations and supports the community patrols which oversee natural resource management and protect the migration route of the elephants.

Immediate, effective action is essential to protect this fragile elephant population. MEP’s work must continue to keep them safe.

Image Credits: Elephant © Carlton Ward


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