Visit to ‘Save the Elephants’ in Samburu, Kenya

In previous visits to Africa we have enjoyed numerous extraordinary encounters with elephants none of which however can match what we experienced in May at the Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu, Kenya. Last September at the Elephant Summit in Jackson Hole we promised Iain Douglas Hamilton his daughter Saba and Frank Pope that we would come to Samburu to learn more about Save the Elephants and also to mingle with the elephants there. Iain is of course the renowned elephant research pioneer and founder of Save the Elephants where his son-in-law Frank Pope is chief of operations, while Saba Douglas Hamilton operates Elephant Watch Camp, one of the most enchanting camps we have visited in Africa to date. However, our journey began with a visit to the baby orphan elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's nursery in Nairobi National Park. After spending some time with the infant elephants in the bush we looked in on Dame Daphne and Angela Sheldrick as well as Robert Hartley Carr, Angela's husband. We were glad to see that Dame Daphne, who had been quite ill last year, was in good health and spirits. After a most pleasant visit with the Sheldricks we flew to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, one of our favorite places in East Africa which MKF has supported for many years. We spent a few days immersed in Lewa's serene beauty while enjoying its spectacular, diverse wildlife. Because of Lewa's crack security forces there has not been a single case of elephant poaching at Lewa for several years. As a result, the elephants at Lewa were relaxed and quite comfortable in our presence and as always, a joy to behold. On the morning of our departure Joseph, our excellent guide, drove us from Lewa House to Elephant Watch Camp where Saba and her Samburu staff gave us a warm welcome. We soon went out on a game drive and almost immediately came across a herd of elephants, in fact we were practically engulfed by them. It is truly remarkable how accustomed these elephants are to the Elephant Watch Camp vehicles and the Samburu guides. There were moments when we felt like we had become part of their herd and we were absolutely elated with our first encounter. The next day Iain, his wife Oria and Frank arrived at camp. Over dinner we caught up with, amongst other things, the state of Africa's elephants, particularly those in Samburu, the ongoing research of Save the Elephants and the wide ranging projects one of its major campaigns, The Elephant Crisis Fund. Aware of our interest Iain offered to provide more insight and invited us to join him next day at the Save the Elephants Research Camp. We learned much during our visit there because Iain was not only very generous with his time but also agreed to do a short on camera interview which you can view here. During the following days we spent many blissful hours in the company of various elephant families and herds. We watched – you can see some of this in the video clip - as families gathered by the river, then crossed over to the opposite side while other groups came from the opposite side towards them. All stopping in the middle of the river to greet one another for a brief family reunion. Words are inadequate to describe the emotions that overwhelm you when observing such a spectacle of the truly born to be wild. It is indeed a great privilege to be in their presence, particularly considering what human kind has done to their kind for countless years. While the battle to protect Elephants continues it is comforting to know that in Samburu they are thriving in great part due to Save the Elephants efforts and we’re glad that MKF is one of Save the Elephants supporters. Please consider joining the herd by becoming a fellow donor. Simply click this link to: and lend a hand. JK & JMK


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The Maue Kay Foundation is a non profit 501(c) (3) charitable foundation formed in 2004 by John Kay and Jutta Maue Kay supports individuals and organizations engaged in the protection of WILDLIFE, THE ENVIRONMENT and HUMAN RIGHTS