On a fast developing continent, where space is at a premium, preserving biodiversity is the key to turning around the climate crisis. 70% of Africa’s wildlife exists outside the protection of National Parks and Reserves, but the Samburu community are proving a new wave of community-led initiatives are the way forward.
One pioneering example is occurring within the Samburu community that occupies the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya; here, they are reversing the trends and securing the future of their wilderness landscapes. In 2017, with the support of The Sarara Foundation and Conservation International, the Samburu community created Reteti; a rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary which provides employment and education for locals, as they work together to save a critical species.
Under eight years old, elephant calves will spend up to 80-90% of their time within five metres of their mother or another adult herd member. Therefore the two primary causes of an immature elephant being without a herd is that; (1) baby elephants only develop tusks around two years of age and therefore are ignored by poachers targeting older, larger members of the herd for their ivory; or (2), with prolonged droughts and low water tables, elephant calves either fall into wells or get stuck in cloying mud. The elephant calves are then heartbreakingly abandoned by their herd after many traumatic and failed attempts to rescue them of their own accord. As elephants mature so slowly, the removal or lack of these important older herd members leaves an unquestionably bleak appraisal for the success of the species. This is where the sanctuary will step in, as it is clear that without intervention, there would be fatality.