My first Blog


Louise Bell International Intern

Date Published


Welcome to my first STE intern blog. I will be working with the STE team at both head office and the research camp for a period of two and three weeks respectively. My name is Louise Bell and I have just finished my MSc at the University of Leeds, UK in Biodiversity and Conservation. I quite strangely, completed my thesis on measuring stress through hormones and behaviour of big cats when moved between European zoos. As odd as this may seem, measuring cat poo is quite an enjoyable task, which I may add is much underestimated (I guess there hasn’t been many, if any, interns before that has a freezer full of tiger poo at home). I also work as the Research and Conservation Officer at Blackpool Zoo, in the north of the UK which keeps me very busy and out of trouble (sometimes!). As an older married lady, I didn’t think at first that I would be suitable for an internship however, I was wrong and gratefully I am here in Kenya.

I have always had a passion for elephants and hope to spend the rest of my working life (and retirement if I make it that far) involved in their conservation. I completed my undergraduate dissertation in monitoring captive elephant behaviour in which I built them a feeding device. After taking three weeks and two attempts not to mention hundreds of pounds, to build it, they had destroyed it within 2 days. You think from this experience that I would be bitter but if anything, it made me love them even more. What amazes me about elephants is that they are one of nature’s giants but mysteriously gentle at the same time. I am thoroughly looking forward to my time and learning with STE at both the head office and research camp and hope it isn’t over too soon.

Day 1 in the STE house:

After a lazy first day in the Kenyan sunshine I started my internship with Save the Elephants. My first task was a grim reminder of how greedy and cruel the world can be. I was given the job of photographing some slides taken between the 1970s and 1990s of poached elephants across Africa. Sadly poaching is a rising threat to the conservation of elephants and will unfortunately not end soon. I was asked to photograph these slides to enable their digital use in MIKE (monitoring the illegal killing of elephants) training programmes of African elephant conservationists and would-be national reserve and park rangers. As STE is responsible for coordinating the Samburu-Laikipia region of MIKE these photos as menacing as they are will come to good use to show how cruel and disgraceful poaching elephants for their tusks is.

So far, although it is only day 2, I would recommend carrying out part of your intern at the head office as you can then get to experience the work that goes on behind the scenes and really feel the passion for elephant conservation. I hope you too will enjoy the rest of my blogs as much as I will be experiencing STE and writing them. As they say here in Kenya, Hakuna Matata!