KENYA on Advanture Tips

The African elephant is under constant threat from poachers, and numbers have fallen by one third in seven years. Joe Minihane journeyed to the Samburu reserve in Kenya to meet its elephants and the people trying to save them.

His trunk sways like a pendulum as he turns and spots our 4×4. Slowly, silently, he begins padding towards us.

“Don’t move a muscle,” whispers Saba from the driving seat. “Just let him come to us.” I watch as this young male elephant begins circling our vehicle, turning my head slowly as he passes and lets out a grunt, eyeing us with interest. His scent is pungent, his hide wet.

“He’s secreting from his temporal glands,” says Saba, as our interlocutor walks off towards the nearby dry riverbed. “It means he’s in musth.” Musth, she explains, is a short period when bull elephants become acutely hormonal. High testosterone levels mean they can be dangerous.

I’m in Samburu, northern Kenya, exploring the frontline in the battle to save these majestic creatures from the menace of ivory poaching.

Saba Douglas Hamilton is my guide. With her father, Iain, and her husband, Frank Pope, she runs the world-renowned Save The Elephants (STE) charity from here in the heart of the east Africa bush, doing vital, pressing conservation work.

It’s estimated that 22,000 elephants are killed annually for their tusks
There’s no denying that the African elephant is in crisis. Between 2007 and 2014, numbers fell by 30 percent across the continent, according to the Great African Elephant Census. In September 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said elephants were experiencing their worst decline in 25 years. And there’s one key reason: poaching.