My Favourite Elephants

My Favourite Elephants

The Save the Elephants team in Samburu can individually recognise about 1000 elephants, and have been monitoring them closely since 1997. For ease of reference each family is named after a category, like the Storms, Winds, Acacias, or Native Americans, so individuals bear names such as Tempest, Harmattan, Polyacantha or Sioux. What makes these elephants special is that they are part of one of the biggest remaining free-roaming wild elephant populations in Kenya that come in and out of the Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves at will, ranging vast distances across the wild frontier of the Ewaso ecosystem in the Northern Rangelands. The conservation efforts in north Kenya stand heads above other parts of Africa, because of the collaborative nature of the work that is done by the NGOs, community conservancies, game ranches, government agencies and parastatals based there.  Nothing is achieved in isolation, so for all our successes and triumphs at Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch Camp, I’d like to credit also our partners at Kenya Wildlife Service, Samburu County Government, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Northern Rangelands Trust, Ewaso Lions, Grevy Zebra Trust, Milgis Trust and the many Community Conservancies whom we have the pleasure to work with. In addition, from time to time we find orphaned or injured elephants (and other animals), and have to call upon the services of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust who unfailingly answer our cries for help by scrambling a rescue plane or immediately sending in their mobile veterinary unit. Thank you all! Right! Back onto elephants. Today, I’d like to celebrate some of the elephants I love best. Like Babylon, above, from the Biblical Towns, the oldest and most beautiful matriarch...
Our Wild Life in Samburu

Our Wild Life in Samburu

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. 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 kids’ eyes to a very different way of life and give them time to explore their imaginations and creativity while their brains were still uncluttered. At first they...
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