Among the Elephants Blog
April 9, 2018
David Daballen, Head of Field Operations
A community project supported by Save The Elephants to define and protect wildlife and livestock corridors in Northern Kenya, has received its first unofficial ‘blessing’ from a wild collared elephant called Kiir.
Kiir is the first elephant wearing a tracking collar to be tracked traversing one of the newly-created corridors linking Samburu and Shaba National Reserves in northern Kenya. Connectivity between these two small reserves and Buffalo Springs National Reserve to the south is critical for their future, but is threatened by the spread of unplanned development.
Over twenty years’ worth of STE’s elephant movement data went into identifying the corridor, and three others like it, that cross the main highway to Ethiopia. Four years ago we began tracking an additional 40 elephants across the wider Samburu-Laikipia landscape, in partnership with the Northern Rangelands Trust and funded by The Nature Conservancy. This project was designed to deepen our understanding of how elephants use this landscape, and to define what linkages need to be protected.
The tracking data has been the centre of discussions between local communities to agree which areas could be set aside and kept free of development in perpetuity. These corridors are now marked with pillars and patrolled by teams of local women, named the Mama Tembos (meaning Elephant Mothers, after the famous Mama Simbas of our local conservation partners Ewaso Lions).
Supported by Singleton Rankin’s WorldWomenWork and Ivory Ella, the Mama Tembos (pictured above with Singleton Rankin) record all animal movements, and give early warning of attempts to create settlements.
We hope that these corridors will be the first of many to be put in place by communities in northern Kenya to ensure that livestock and wildlife — including elephants like Kiir — will be able to move freely in search of food and water even as Kenya develops.
Read Daily Nation article on the Mama Tembos.