Maasai leaders demand body of dead elephant (Kenya)


Peterson Githaiga, The Standard

Date Published

See link for photo. 

The carcass of Tim – one of the last great ‘Tusker’ elephants in Kenya that died early this year – will be moved back to a community-run museum at the Amboseli National Park. Regarded the African elephant ambassador, Tim died in March this year in Amboseli National Park of natural causes. 

The carcass of the 50-year-old Tusker was then moved to National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. 

Speaking during celebrations to mark the World Elephant Day at the Amboseli National Park on Tuesday, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala directed that the carcass be taken back to a museum in the Amboseli. 

Balala was responding to a request made by leaders from Kajiado who accused the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) of taking away the famous elephant’s carcass to Nairobi instead of preserving it in one of the museums within the park where the animal lived. 

Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku was the first to propose that the carcass of the elephant be preserved at the Amboseli. “The Maasai community were shocked to see the famous elephant’s body being taken away to Nairobi after living with him for many years. We are now demanding that the body be returned to the Amboseli to generate an extra coin for the community,” said the governor. 

Famous for his rare majestic tusks each weighing at least 45 kilogrammes, Tim was popular with tourists at the Amboseli National Park where he was considered an ambassador for his species in Africa. 

Once back at the Amboseli, his carcass is expected to attract more visitors and researchers to the community-owned Maasai Heritage Museum where it will be displayed. 

Following the elephant’s death, tributes poured in the social media from all over the world from tourists who had viewed the animal at the Amboseli and strangers who had read and seen its images on posters. 

The Wildlife ministry promised to involve more individuals and groups in devising ways of conserving wildlife. 

“I was in Masai Mara reserve the other day and we agreed with Narok Governor Samwel Tunai that once their (conservation) plan is ready, we will present it for gazettement; we are also ready to gazette the one for Amboseli,” said Balala.

The CS announced that the ministry will spend Sh1 billion to pay local rangers who manage the Amboseli conservancies.

During Tuesday’s celebrations, Balala witnessed the collaring and naming of elephants. The collars will help monitor the animals’ movements to protect them from poachers and reduce human/wildlife conflict.  

“The data collected will help the rangers anticipate when elephants are at risk of encountering poachers and alert them when the herds are heading towards human settlements,” said the CS. 

Wildlife Conservation

The CS hailed the recent formation of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA) to consolidate benefits and incentives from wildlife conservation and management by local communities. 

“The association must move fast and establish a research agenda for the country that will facilitate and consolidate acquisition of wildlife data and information that the country needs to enhance wildlife conservation and management against competing land uses,” said the CS. 

He called upon the association to develop standards and best practices for community and private conservancies’ management and provide incentives to communities willing to offer their land to wildlife. 

The CS said current and planned infrastructure projects in the country demanded for up-to-date data to guide in decision making how the developments would affect wildlife areas.