In the beginning of April the area was lush and green after a lot of continuous rains. Hundreds of elephants and other wildlife enjoyed this time of abundance and many newborns were recorded. Elephant matriarch Mayian and her family spent most of their time eating, playing and moving at a leisurely pace, as did other elephant herds. With so much food availability, this allowed the elephants to spend more energy socializing.
Among the many challenges faced by wildlife rangers on a daily basis, roaring rivers is one of the lesser heard of. In order to cover the area effectively, the rangers have to get from one side to the other as safely as possible. Luckily these rangers have grown up in this part of the world and are pretty familiar with the terrain but they always act with caution in every aspect of their work. Rain is a blessing in Africa and we are grateful for the bountiful resources rain brings to many wildlife species and people. These rangers are out there everyday continuing their invaluable mission to secure wildlife as well as wild habitat and we could not be more thankful for their tireless efforts!
They are not called a “dazzle” of zebras for nothing! These beautiful members of the equine family are iconic to Africa and are yet another species which have important roles within their home ecosystems. This stunning photo was captured while on a patrol later in the month.
On the 22nd of April, while one unit of Elephant Aware rangers were on a routine patrol, other members of the team were busy delivering food packages to women and families in the community. Many around the world have been affected by the current crisis either directly or indirectly. The situation has wreaked havoc on economies and cost many the vital daily incomes they depend upon. Each of these individual women represent their entire families and the food received will go a long way in supporting not only the women but their husbands and children as well. The rangers and our whole team were more than happy to give help to our neighbours and friends during this difficult time. We appreciate the many good, kind hearted individuals out there who make great efforts to help those in need. Communities who live alongside wildlife must be the leaders in the conservation of their natural heritage and by supporting these communities you are supporting the protection of wildlife. We thank our supporters for enabling our important work to continue everyday.
After a lot of rain that night we enjoyed spending time with the little family of Nasha and Noretet as they were basked in the beautiful rosy evening light the following evening. (Watch the video)
We watched as these little giraffes enjoyed playtime one evening in early May:
Our area of operation is home to a significant population of giraffes that our team work to protect everyday as well as elephants and other species of wildlife. The giraffes in this part of Kenya are Masai giraffes and last year this subspecies of giraffe were declared to be endangered due to heavy poaching for their meat, skins and also as the result of habitat loss throughout their natural range. We were delighted to find and spend time with these two happy youngsters and their herd on our evening patrol. Even at this young age these pint sized giraffes seem to have mastered the art of curling their tails up onto their haunches while on their gallivanting adventures.
“We are all under the same moon.” A special scene from an evening patrol in May. This trio of young bulls were slowly tagging along behind a family herd while the rangers watched from nearby.
On a routine foot patrol the next morning the rangers found and removed seven wire snares that were set up to trap unsuspecting animals in this remote, hilly location that is inaccessible to vehicles. Snares such as these have devastating effects on wildlife across the continent and by removing the snares many lives could be saved. Snares are indiscriminate killers that poachers strategically place in wildlife hotspots which animals as big as elephants to small antelopes can get caught in only to suffer a slow, painful death. We are glad for the dilligent efforts of rangers like these who work everyday to protect wildlife.
There are a number of ways to tell elephants apart such as with careful study of their iconic ears, tusks, body and even their tails. The smallest marking, lump, bump vein pattern on an ear or indentation on a tusk can give clues as to who the elephant is. After all, elephants are as individual as we are and this is expressed even on their faces and through their characters. Like us, elephants feel emotions and are often seen displaying remarkably anthropomorphic gestures towards one another as well as toward other species. Now more than ever, let us all work together to ensure that this extraordinary species have a future on our planet so that future generations may have the same privilege of delighting in the intriguing complexity and amazing wonder elephants evoke in their human observers. Equally so that elephants can continue in their important roles within their home ecosystems, the extent of which perhaps has not been fully understood yet, and their contribution to the economies of nations across the African continent.
On Tuesday evening a herdsman tending his cows came across something unusual and quickly informed the Elephant Aware rangers. He had spotted a lone elephant calf trailing after the cows and the only other elephant in the vicinity was a large bull. He immediately knew something was not right. The rangers quickly responded to assess the situation and carefully observe the calf to make sure that the young elephant was definitely without a mother or family. More than one herd of elephants in the general area meant that the first course of action for our team was to attempt to reunite the calf with the nearest herd and after this was unsuccessful the rangers repeated it again to no avail. During the next four days we hoped she would somehow find her family but after determining that this calf is an orphan and still milk dependent, attempts were made to rescue her but she vanished into hills and densely wooded ravines which forced us to delay any intervention. No other elephants appeared to know this calf and there was no response despite her anguished cries, suggesting that she had lost her herd and her mother was no longer alive or she would certainly have heard her baby’s loud, persistent calls. The little calf would accompany bull elephants who appeared to be very kind to her but they could not offer the maternal nurturing she clearly needs at this vulnerable age. On Friday while the rangers were searching for the calf a bull elephant with an injury was found. We thought it was likely that she might be in his presence because his slowed movements and formidable size meant for the perfect companion to a small calf and yesterday morning when the rangers resumed monitoring of the bull elephant this proved correct. Luckily they happened to be in a more easily accessed area and so a double rescue was necessary.
A strategic joint capture of the calf with the Narok County, conservancy rangers, KWS, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust teams and community members to carefully load her onto a vehicle and take her to the nearest airstrip to be airlifted to the elephant nursery in Nairobi was successful where she is now being cared for around the clock. At a year old, this calf would not have survived much longer without the care, nourishment and protection from predators in the wild that her family would have normally provided. We believe that the best outcome is of course for a calf to be reunited with their mother but in cases where this is not possible and when rescue is the last resort for an elephant calf we are thankful for the assistance from the DSWT. With the calf safely on her way, attention could be turned to help the bull elephant and we are happy to say that his operation too was successful. He was found to have multiple injuries including a serious puncture wound on his trunk which is suspected to have been caused by a spear.
The bull elephant, estimated to be about 30 years old, is expected to make a full recovery. The outcome of this double incident where two elephants needed and received urgent help would not have been possible without the tremendous combined effort on the ground and especially the 100% community-landowner involvement throughout. Community members and the rangers have named her Olorien after the area where she was first found. The amazing determination shown by one of the area chiefs and other community members to help, reflects not only a positive conservation mindset but also the enormous importance of locally driven conservation and we would term the events of yesterday as an entirely community led initiative to help these two elephants of the Mara ecosystem.
No matter what day of the year, our team is out there protecting wildlife and supporting communities sharing the same space. Species like elephants need continuous monitoring to ensure their protection but to keep up with the world’s largest land mammal, rangers must cover a lot of ground and this is no easy task. To be the most effective in their roles as heritage guardians, rangers have to utilise a wide array of skills from networking and collaborating with community members to following signs left behind by people and wildlife, to map reading, GPS usage and telecommunications. Being a ranger is an all encompassing career which has its many benefits, not least of which is the enormous contribution to society through the safeguarding of a global treasure, that is, our natural world. The international day marked to celebrate rangers and the work they do is more than a month away but rangers like Sirere deserve support for their tireless efforts everyday.
Giraffes are one of the threatened species our team works around the clock to secure through our anti-poaching, habitat protection and conflict prevention efforts everyday and on the 21st of June we joined many across the world in celebrating these beautifully iconic creatures.
POTENTIAL HUMAN ELEPHANT CONFLICT AVOIDED
The land owning Maasai community within the Siana Conservation Area have set aside large portions of wild habitat for the sake of conservation, an act which shows their committment to being wildlife custodians and active investors in the preservation of their own heritage. Wildlife zones and human settlements interconnect and occasionally overlap across this region, as is the case in many parts of Africa and indeed, the world. It is therefore no surprise that wild animals such as elephants come into contact with humans almost daily. When a community member finds that a herd of elephants has got into their fenced land in the night and requests assistance from the Elephant Aware rangers, our team is swift in responding to ensure the safety of both people and elephants.
In the last week of June a herd of 10 elephants were discovered in a large privately owned property situated on the border between community settlement and wilderness. Approximately 90% of this piece of land consists of a densely forested area where the elephants had been and despite the appeal of this miniature paradise, the proximity between them and the people living nearby posed too great a risk of potential conflict. With an electric fence surrounding the property, it still remains unclear as to how the elephants got in and they appeared to be unable to leave again the same way so our rangers along with KWS worked for five days to try and gently maneuver them out. A section of fence line was lowered with the owner’s permission to allow the elephants an opening but this did little to encourage them, we suspect this is because there may be newborns in the herd who would be incapable of stepping over the wire but after about 100 metres of wire was completely dismantled yesterday, the elephants finally felt comfortable enough to tiptoe out and found their way back into a bushy hill, a safe distance away from people. As if sensing that we were there to help, the elephants left at the right moment. The profound intelligence of elephants is ever awe striking and often leaves us amazed. Patience, caution and immense painstaking care, which is always a crucial priority in our approach, led to a peaceful result. As always, we are thankful for the community collaboration and for the cooperation of the elephants. A united effort to protect people and help wildlife in a challenging situation made a peaceful outcome possible, much to the happy relief of everyone present.
June was a very busy month for our team and through the support of our donors we were able to achieve a lot for the wildlife in our area, working closely with our partners and especially the Siana community everyday. As the sole elephant conservation project in this part of the Mara ecosystem, our team’s daily efforts are crucial for the overall security of elephants and other species in this area. As always we are tremendously grateful for all the support we receive from around the world which enables our important conservation work to continue every single day, year around.