Kenya’s Elephants in David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet
The final episode of David Attenborough’s BBC series ‘A Perfect Planet’ looked at the role humans play in the changes to the earth’s weather, oceans and living world. The alteration of these ‘life support systems’ and the impact this has on the natural world is described in vivid detail. From our years involved with Africa, her people, eco-systems and wildlife it’s an issue of which we are only too well aware. Without the benefits to local communities that safari camps can offer, it is likely that wilderness areas will diminish and the populations of iconic species will dwindle at an alarming rate.
There are some particularly touching scenes of baby elephants in Kenya being rescued in Tsavo National Park. The remarkable work of Angela Sheldrick and her keepers is heartening to see – and every elephant returned to the wild a tremendous success for the team.
If elephants are on your ‘must see’ list then Kenya offers some particularly good options for interesting viewing.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Many Aardvark Safaris’ clients passing through Nairobi will visit the elephant orphanage founded by Daphne, David’s widow. Daphne died in 2018 but her tremendous work carries on, and the orphanage, whose aim is to release elephants back into the wild, is just one of the projects run by the trust which also supports anti-poaching units, mobile vets, habitat rescue, conservation initiatives and community outreach. If you foster an elephant (approximately £35) you can visit by appointment at 5pm when the elephants return to the stockades for the night.
Samburu National Park
With the headquarters for Save the Elephants in the park, researchers are with elephants most of the day, and they have become familiar with vehicles. As a result, guests can experience an amazing encounter with these impressive animals which tend to be found in big breeding herds here.
Elephant Watch Camp, run by the Douglas-Hamiltons, including Iain whose life’s work has been around elephants and their conservation, and Saba, TV star of This Wild Life and a well-respected conservationist in her own right, is a great spot. When the acacia trees fruit after the rain you don’t even need to leave your room to spot elephant as they wander through camp picking the fallen delicacies.
A more recent addition to Kenya’s elephant conservation programmes is Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in the remote Mathews Mountains in Kenya’s Northern Province. Opened in 2016 the sanctuary rescues orphaned and abandoned elephant calves whilst creating much needed benefits to the local people that live alongside them. All the keepers are from the local community and they have perfected the skill of returning lost calves back to their family herds. It’s a wonderful place to visit and easily accessible from camps such as Sarara and Tassia.
Away from Kenya, Abu Camp in Botswana deserves a special mention. It’s an incredible place to immerse yourself in the local elephant herd, and offers a unique chance to explore the Okavango Delta and its wildlife alongside them. There’s even the chance to sleep out under the stars overlooking the elephant boma. The ‘star bed’, complete with a bathroom and open shower, is raised on a platform high above the ground and guests are lulled to sleep by the contented rumbling and low snores of the elephants below. With just a mosquito net canopy to cover the bed, it’s camping in the raw – but what could be better than the elephants below and fabulous stars of the southern hemisphere above?
If you have been inspired by the elephants featured on A Perfect Planet and like what you’ve read here about elephant safaris in Kenya and want to find out more, do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.