Finding My Feet


Corin Gallagher, International Intern

Date Published

My name is Corin Gallagher, and I am 19. I was born in Hong-Kong but brought up in South-West London. I will in October begin an English Literature degree at the University of Bristol, having taken this year as a gap year. Along with conservation, I see myself in the future working in the world of media, or possibly as a musician, in both cases playing to my strengths.

It would be fair to say that this year has been like no other for me. Fresh from school, I have found myself drifting along the river Gambia, working amongst the chaos of Mumbai, watching a tiger stalk no more than 15 meters from me, gazing around the endless plains of the Serengeti and basking on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar. Yet I still always looked forward most of all this year to my short 3 week internship with Save The Elephants in the astoundingly beautiful arid wilderness of Samburu, in Northern Kenya. This would surprise many people, but it makes complete sense to me; I have always dreamed of some involvement in the conservation of East African wildlife, and in this case elephants.

What I have learnt to appreciate in my first 3 days with STE is the attention to detail required when monitoring elephants. Everything down to the mood of an elephant is monitored. I thought initially that copying in data in the office at camp would prove tedious, but quite the reverse. When typing in data regarding elephants that that day you had been watching, the figures suddenly have so much more meaning. Also, for the first time I feel that small though it admittedly is, I am making at least some contribution to the momentous tasking of saving elephants.

Then there is the thrill of the fieldwork, which I was thrown straight into of the plane. Elephants had always been just elephants to me. But with the expertise of the team, you learn the character, history and relationships between these elephants. Within an hour I had totally reshaped my view on just how intelligent and charismatic elephants are, once they can be shown to you as individuals. It has been sad to already see two dead elephants, one from poaching, but even sadder to hear from the staff about the regularity with which an elephant is poached. Watching the glorious sight of an elephant family crossing the muddy Ewaso Nyiro River, one can hardly believe they are endangered, but these short days above all else have made me determined to play my part in the conservation of Africa’s elephants. These 3 weeks look set to be life changing.