As the world marches for Climate, we in Samburu are all too aware of the effects of climate change on the wilds of the North. This time seven years ago, super herds of elephants gathered as a great flood hit Samburu, wrecking havoc on our research centre. Today, we see only a smattering of showers. It has been a tough time for all, including our elephant families in Samburu. With little rain, livestock and wildlife are scrambling for the last grass. The National Reserve was not spared this onslaught, and with barely any food to eat many of our elephants have grown thin and weak. Staring into the near vacant eyes of new born baby elephants, whose births were timed to coincide with the coming of the rains, makes it all too chilling.
Koitogo was one such calf, only four days old when we met him. He was born on the 20th of March to a first time mother from the Storms Family in Samburu, northern Kenya. Soon after he was born, the new mom and her family spent the night near the rangers post in Samburu.
We suspect that when morning came and it was time for them to leave, they realised that the calf was too weak to go on with the journey. So they had no choice but to leave him behind. He was found by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers as they left for their daily patrols. Weak and barely responsive, they brought him to our research camp where the STE team tried their best to give him water with rehydration salts.
We transported him to the airstrip, from where he was flown to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a new facility in Namunyak Conservancy north of our camp. Sadly despite their best efforts working day and night, Retiti staff could not save Koitogo who was too weak and unable to survive the trauma of being separated from his herd so soon after birth.
Our Long Term Monitoring Team is still going out every day, recording all the pregnant cows and spying the little wobbly legs of new borns nestled in the middle of the herd. As we pray for their survival, and do all we can to keep them alive, we appreciate the masses of people who realise the gravity of the fight against climate change, and are working to keep us all from the threshold of no return.
To get a better understanding of the struggles currently facing Samburu elephants we want to share this heart-rending film of Koitogo’s journey by Robbie Labanowski.