An Adventurer and a Teacher


Lillian Wanja/Save the Elephants

Date Published

Naisula in Samburu National Reserve earlier this year © Meha Kumar/Save the Elephants

In December 2023, Naisula, the tracked matriarch of the Samburu Ladies, led her herd of 12 into Samburu National Reserve (SNR) in northern Kenya. This has become a time-honoured tradition for Naisula and her family.

Naisula’s herd typically migrates between SNR during the wet season and Ngare-Ndare forest (southward) in the dry season. The journey is not without its challenges. The herd has to cross through the Nasuulu-Leparua area, a former poaching hotspot with relatively high cases of Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC).

It’s a journey that Naisula seems to have perfected – her tracking data shows that she takes her family through this dangerous area quickly and at night and almost always in a straight line with minimal detours.

A map showing Naisula’s movements between December 2023 and February 2024 © Save the Elephants

This 23 year old elephant and mother of three is full of surprises. In 2021, she led her family to the peak of Ololokwe, the Samburu’s sacred mountain, and early this year, ventured further east, exploring a new range in the Nakuprat-Gotu area. At the time, her herd was the easternmost group of STE’s tracked Samburu elephants. To reach this far, the herd used two wildlife corridors, including the Samburu-Shaba Corridor which is one of seven successfully demarcated and monitored corridors – part of STE’s Northern Corridors Project.

This project links local communities, governments, and like minded organisations to help protect these vital pathways which provide wildlife with safe passage from one rangeland to another, across areas of human settlement and development.

Following her Christmas ‘vacation’ in Samburu National Reserve, Naisula then made her way back to Ngare-Ndare. By leaving a reserve that still had an abundance of resources, she shows that there is still much we don’t understand about elephant behaviour. As a tracked elephant, her journey sheds light on the complex relationship between elephants and their environment. We hope the data she sends will continue to build the knowledge that is crucial to secure her a future in a changing world.

To learn more about how STE is securing wildlife and livestock movement corridors in northern Kenya, click here.