(Nairobi, 4 March 2010) Early this morning Save the Elephants (STE) research facility and Elephant Watch Safari Camp located in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, were completely destroyed by unexpected flooding of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, along with seven other neighbouring lodges.
At approximately 5am this morning, a wall of water akin to a Tsunami surged through Elephant Watch Camp, catching tourists and staff unawares and sweeping away tents and facilities. It has been confirmed that camp owner Oria Douglas-Hamilton and guests managed to escape to safety by climbing to higher ground. Several members of staff were trapped in trees until the water subsided later today.
At approximately 7am the flood hit and decimated Save the Elephants’ research facility down river. Researchers and staff managed to drive to safety within seconds of the flood waters surging through the facility.
News just in confirm scenes of devastations at both facilities, with beds, tents, computers and vital research documentation submerged in mud and strung up in the treetops. Over 200 people watched from a hill above the camps as the waters wrecked havoc.
Staff and researchers hastily salvaged computers and camera equipment, but reports confirm that key research data, computers, equipment, kitchen facilities and food, lodging and personal effects have been washed away.
Although it is too early to asses the cost of the damage, Operations Manager Lucy King expects it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild the facility, and Save the Elephants is now calling on the generosity of donors and interested parties to kick start the effort.
The immediate relief process has already begun, with blankets and water flown in by STE founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton this morning, as well as the assistance of the British army which is attempting to airlift people to safety and bring additional supplies.
The waters have currently receded to the point where staff are able to wade through the remnants of the facilities and retrieve what is left of their belongings.
Ominously, heavy rain clouds hang over Samburu and more heavy rains are expected as early as this evening at what is only the start of Kenya’s rainy season.
Please note that news updates on the flooding will be posted on the STE website. To donate to STE’s rebuilding effort, please go to www.savetheelephants.org
For all media enquiries please contact:
Lucy King: +254 (0)720 275561