The digital and the beast


Nancy Odweyo, National Intern

Date Published

How often do you come across wildlife interacting so harmoniously with human technology? Well, maybe once in a life time or just about never if you are not lucky enough to be among the Save The Elephants team! I usually wake up at 7.15 am but today I was up early?an hour earlier than usual. By 7.00 am I was seated in the car, waiting patiently for David to hit off the road. Next to our truck are three other metallic beasts with their engines on.

We set out in three different routes; the Buffalo Springs, Samburu East and Samburu West. If you think we are out for a game drive then you might want to take a second guess…We are out on a  ‘search mission’ for Matt; one of the biggest tusks in Samburu National Reserve. You see, Matt has to put on his new collar, this will make it easier to track him down and watch his movements from the STE’s tracker software. Within the past few months, Matt has dropped his digital necklaces at least three times! But he has to be re-collared; otherwise he might go missing with his ‘poacher-alluring’ tusks.

When it comes to playing hide-and-seek, the big guy has an eye for good hiding spots. In a search that began at 7am in the morning, four separate teams were unable to locate him until three hours into sunrise. Our team, led by David was the first to spot him, grazing leisurely along the river bank. Once he’d crossed over to our side, we followed him quietly maintaining a safe distance. After a few minutes of positioning and re-positioning, with his darting gun in hand, vet Mutindwa took a good shot at him. The 20 milligrams of tranquilizer took a toll on the big fellow, after 10 minutes of circling on the same spot; he came down with a soft thud.

In less than half an hour, our team together with the KWS rangers had secured and locked the digital collar around his huge neck. The next time he woke up, Matt was the proud of owner of a new STE collar! We hope he keeps it until 2017!