Our Wild Life in Samburu

Our Wild Life in Samburu

© Frank Pope. Rommel in full musth. The more you watch elephants, the more you slip into their mind-scape and begin to see the world through their eyes.  Most of what I know about them I learnt by osmosis growing up amongst them while my parents did their research in the ’70s.  Later on, I was able to match my intuitive interpretations with what I read, which opened my eyes to the deep magic of the natural world. Spending time with elephants you appreciate how tender they are to one another, how independently minded each can be, the daily challenges faced by a matriarch as she tries to persuade her family to follow her lead, or her courage in times of danger.  Watching them opens up a window onto the whole world around them, because they are constantly interacting with all the other animal and plant species they live amongst.  So you can slip quietly from intense observation of one species to the next, until the inter-connectedness of all things becomes apparent. Elephants can walk long distances at night, and will lay down to sleep during the coolest hours. ©Michael “Nick” Nichols Perhaps what I’ve learnt most from growing up with elephants is the importance of this inter-connectedness – the fabric of life upon which we all depend – and of how critical wild spaces are for our sanity. It was perhaps this longing to return to natural “silence” that prompted Frank and I to relocate to Samburu district to bring our kids up at Elephant Watch Camp.  Both of us are deeply committed to the cause of saving elephants, but we also felt it was an amazing opportunity to open our...
Olerai’s Roasted Duck

Olerai’s Roasted Duck

CONFIT DE CANARD – DELICIOUS DUCK DISH Easy steps on how to prepare a roasted duck in your kitchen: Step one remove all of the skin from the duck. Cut up the duck into 8 pieces and reserve. Put the skin in a pot on a very low flame to render the fat out of the skin. You might want to buy some extra duck fat available in gourmet stores. Next rub a salt and spice cure over the raw duck i.e salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, mustard seeds. Cover the duck pieces in plastic and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. When the fat is rendered out of the skin. Strain the liquid and let cool. Save the skin to make duck crackling after you are done. The next morning wash off the duck pieces and dry them thoroughly. Put the pieces in a covered pot and submerge them with the duck fat. Cook for 4 hours IN SLOW oven. Take the duck pieces out and reserve the fat for crackling not part of confit. Serve the duck pieces with red cabbage and apple potato purée or bean cassoulet for cold days....
BBC Series ‘This Wild Life’ Out in Norway

BBC Series ‘This Wild Life’ Out in Norway

The much anticipated ‘This Wild Life’ has hit TV screens in Norway. The ten part BBC series starring Saba Douglas-Hamilton, daughter of well known elephant conservationists, Iain and Oria, gives a glimpse of the exciting life and conservation work in the bush with her husband, Frank Pope, and their three young children. Filmed in Samburu National Reserve, the series captures the cutting edge science done by Save the Elephants which includes collaring, monitoring and collecting data from the Samburu herds – the most closely researched group of elephants in the world. Also featured in the documentary is Elephant Watch Camp, the unique eco-luxury camp created by Oria, which Saba runs in between saving elephants, being a filmmaker, conservationist, loving mum and wife. We welcome all our Norwegian friends to come and experience ‘This REAL Wild Life’ in Samburu, Northern Kenya first hand and spend some days at Elephant Watch Camp. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime chance!   Photocredit: Tim...
Bill and Chelsea Clinton’s Visit to Save the Elephants

Bill and Chelsea Clinton’s Visit to Save the Elephants

IT WAS JUST ANOTHER WONDERFUL WEEK IN KENYA! Dear Friends and Family, It has been quite a month, but with the coming of the rains everything changed. Within days the dry earth turned into a carpet of green grass, wild flowers adorned the bushes and shrubs, and just as fast, news of big events was being carefully organised. From tortoises and little mud terrapins suddenly emerging from their hiding places to the new water holes, to the great musth elephant bulls showing off their high testosterone levels, splashing all with mud and ready to fight and mate. Everywhere something seemed to be on a race to reproduce…and even the birds songs were clear as a note in a chapel. Activities at Save the Elephants Research Centre looked as if a wedding was about to take place – as wall after wall came alive with images and information and multiple birds nest hung from the ceiling. Elephant movements were monitored daily as big mud slinging activities took place among family after family sliding and wallowing in the delicious mud pools, even spraying some of our advance team guests with mud. I hoped the little terrapins got out fast. Would we be able to get ready for the day. The camp is now open, a cool wind blows, the river flows, and wake up call drifts down from the trees at dawn, a serenade of bird song dawn with a cup of hot organic coffee trees…sunlight pierces through the nests and a great sense of peace takes over…one barely dares to speak. For over two months I worked and planned secretly...
Cherie’s Final Breath

Cherie’s Final Breath

This last month, a BBC film crew joined us to make an obs-doc series called This Wild Life, about life in the bush with our small family, working side by side with Samburu nomads at both Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch Camp.  A typical morning starts with the low chat of Verreaux eagle owls on their favourite perch by the Mess tent, or vervet monkeys alarming at the low-slung presence of a cat.  Dancing acacia leaves scatter the early morning light as we drink our tea, and the river sighs by in a soft rush. Then the children arrive, clamouring at the door “Maaaama! Fungua ‘lango [open the door]! Taka chai [want tea]”.  Just two and a half years old, the twins baby-talk Kiswahili better than English – it’s often much easier to keep on speaking Kiswahili if one wants to be properly understood.  Selkie (their older sister), fluent in both, leaps into bed for a cuddle. After breakfast I jump into the Land Rover to join the film crew.  A female elephant is sick – Cherie, from the First Ladies. She has a five-month-old calf.  She keeps stretching out her back legs or leaning uncomfortably forward, as if trying to ease pain in her stomach.  Apparently she’s been like this for weeks. Her calf tries to suckle but she brushes it off the nipple with her leg.  At this age he relies almost entirely on her milk.  I notice her deeply sunken temples, and the sharp pinch around her cheekbones. Signs of dehydration.  This is serious.  We wait and watch for days, finding her mostly alone with her calf, now unable to keep up with the herd.  She takes to resting on raised edges of roads or sloping riverbanks, which make it easier to get to her feet.  I sense...
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