Samburu launches sanctuary for orphaned elephant calves (Kenya)


Gilbert Koech, The Star

Date Published

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A new sanctuary that will care for orphaned and abandoned elephant calves has been established in Samburu county.

The Northern Rangelands Trust yesterday said the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, situated in the remote Mathews Range, is among those with the largest elephant populations. It said at some point, they will be reintegrated back into the wild to join the herds adjoining the sanctuary.

The sanctuary has been established through a partnership entered into by the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, Samburu county, KWS, Northern Rangelands Trust, San Diego Zoo, Conservation International, Tusk Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Save the Elephants, and several individuals.

It is estimated between five and 10 elephant calves are rescued in northern Kenya each year, from a population of about 8,700. San Diego Zoo Global CEO Douglas Myers lauded the move, saying the sanctuary will help elephants maintain bonds. “We are delighted to be part of a new approach to caring for the orphaned elephant youngsters that come into the Reteti preserve,” he said.

According to the trust, residents are happy with the move, as they demanded it. “They recognise wildlife as an opportunity to improve livelihoods,” Myers said. The trust said the local community leads in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing elephants within their home range. Five keepers, all from the Namunyak area, have been trained in care, rehabilitation and release of elephant calves. A board, with members selected from the community, will oversee the sanctuary’s operations.