Saturday, 15 April 2017

KENYA: Moving With Elephants

Greetings from Tumaren. Outside the office, as I type, a small herd of Elephants are breaking Acacia branches to get at the tasty bark. They are part of the second largest population of Elephants in Kenya and they are a welcome distraction from the accounts.

Elephants in fact are one of my favorite aspects of life in Laikipia and specifically of the walks I guide. On Tumaren, our conservation area, we often have several herds around and observing these animals is typically the highlight of my walks. Elephants, as most guests already know, are complex and intelligent animals and observing them on safari can be a life affirming pleasure.

It shouldn't be surprising that I think the best way to Elephant-watch is on foot, but it is. On foot we make our appoach always considering the wind direction. We are silent and slow and the animals are oblivious to our presence. Their behavior then is naturual and unrehearsed (even the tame animals in the game park behave differently when they are concious of a nearby vehicle or human smell).

Another life affirming aspect of walking with Elephants is the understanding of exactly where our species ranks in the wild. The African Elephant is the largest terrestrial species of animal on Earth. When you walk beside them you appreciate that fact. You feel small and it is humbling to realize how humans evolved beside such monstrous gentle giants.

The relationship, of course, has been a rocky one, especially in recent years. But all of our guests pay conservation fees that help safeguard our Eles among all the other fauna and flora and we are hugely thankful for that. Here are a few of our elephant achievements that we are quite proud of:

- Elephants Mums are now so comfortable that they regularly give birth on Tumaren. This is now a common occurence but it never happened when we first purchased the property.
- We have rescued one orphan named Tumaren who was sent to the Sheldrick orphanage and is now part of their orphan herd at Ithumba
- We no longer have snares in our area. The last snare we removed was many years ago.
- Through diligent patrols, our area is now no longer a safe place for poachers to operate in.
- Each year we guide a 100 mile walk to raise money for Elephant conservation efforts in Kenya.

Anyway, all our trumpeting best to you and your family.