Experiencing Samburu for the First Time


Nancy Odweyo, National Intern

Date Published

My name is Nancy Odweyo, I am a conservation biology student at Kenyatta University. I recently got the rare opportunity to intern with Save The Elephants. When I first heard they were going to post me to their research camp in Samburu, I was overcome by  an overwhelming feeling of mixed emotions. On one hand, I had a mental note of a dry, harsh area with scanty home comfort. The latter kept ringing in my mind every time I read through my acceptance email. The urge and willingness to have my first zoological research experience could not leave me either.

It is my second day at camp and I must say nothing prepared me for the experience (though little so far) that I’ve had today. At around mid-morning we set out for a mammal census with Daud; a research assistant, Trezer; the Media and Communications Officer and two other international interns. Five minutes past the eco-camp we encounter our first set of mammals; a herd of Oryxes and a couple of Kirk’s dik diks.

As we inch closer to the now drying-up Ewaso Nyiro River, we spotted the rather camera-happy group of impalas. One by one they galloped excitedly across the road and ran for safety behind the dry thickets. Those far enough stare vigilantly while keeping a safe distance from the moving metallic beast. We drove closer to the river; about a 10-meter stretch from the river bank; and voila! We spotted close to four families of elephants. One of the groups; the Samburu Schools was gathered in an enclosed circle as though ‘baby-sitting’ the two playful calves by their feet. Entepis the matriarch just watched on like a caring human mother would over her children. By the time we were done, we had conducted a successful mammal census within the Samburu East route.

As I walk back to my tent for the night, I notice Yegar; one of the elephant bulls grazing by the land cruisers. He is quite peaceful and those around him seem to notice and acknowledge the presence of their regular visitor. I am hoping he will pass by and wake me up for the morning breakfast. I am also upbeat and expectant for a month full of exciting and insightful activities!