Don’t forget the elephants: Conservation in Kenya

One of the most positive experiences I had in Africa was visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Located just outside Nairobi, Kenya, the Trust rescues elephants and rhinos orphaned by drought, famine and ivory poaching.

Humans can learn a lot from elephants. First, they respect their elders. Herds, which can stay together for decades, always follow the oldest female elephant. Elephants are also extremely family-oriented, maintaining extremely close social ties within their pachydermal communities. Most importantly, they remember the smallest acts of kindness for their entire lives.

After sharing these and other fascinating facts about elephants and the most pressing threats to their survival, keeper Edwin Lusichi granted us an impromptu interview.

WHFM: What motivated you to pursue a career in conservation and animal protection?

Lusichi: I think it’s a responsibility because we are God’s creatures. He gave us charge over the animals, so it is our responsibility to offer them every protection. It is unfortunate that it is human beings who cause elephants to be orphaned. We need to come to our senses. God commands us to take care of the animals.

WHFM: How do most elephants become orphans?

Lusichi: Increasing human population, ivory trade and drought. Drought has affected lots of animals, including the females who have young ones. We used to be able to tell the seasons—when it would rain and when it would be dry. Lately, you cannot tell the climate.

WHFM: Population growth and natural disasters are complex problems that require comprehensive solutions. Is there anything simple that people can do now to help protect Africa’s elephants?

Lusichi: Stop buying things made from ivory, including rhino horns. Then the poachers would not have a market.

A version of this story was first published Nov. 6, 2011 by We Have Faith Media. Photos by Karmen Meyer

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2 comments on “Don’t forget the elephants: Conservation in Kenya
  1. Loved this article. Living in a country where over 52 Rhinos have been killed THIS YEAR ALONE (Its is Feb 23 now, so you do the math), I have the deepest respect for people who spend their lives protecting these and other magnificent creatures like elephants. Thanks for this story. It is nice to hear the voice of a local ‘protector’. And he is right: As long there is a market for rhino horn and elephant tusk, these animals will die. But there is more to the story. As long as Chinese men are willing to pay big bucks for a slither of rhino horn to make their ‘little guy’ grow big and strong, AND as long as there are SA officials who are willing to be bribed, the problem will continue. Because I am sure the Chinese must be getting ‘help’ from local officials. How else would you be able to get these horns out of the country?
    When I flew to the Far East in 2010, I was verbally reprimanded (it actually leaned towards abuse) after they found a 200ml bottle of body lotion (which I honestly forgot) in my bag. In the meantime back at the ranch, hundreds of rhino horns are finding their way to Asia – via plane. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

  2. Ruth Terry says:

    Hi Miriam, Thanks for commenting. Sorry it took me so long to write back! I have been hearing a lot more about Chinese alternative medicine and its environmental toll. Who knew, right? Apparently, shark fins are another biggie, according to this Last Chance to See documentary series I recently watched. I’m starting to get paranoid. I was in yoga the other day thinking about how now it’s not just mats anymore, now you need a mat cover and a cork block… and I started wondering about all the environmental toll the demand for all this stuff is taking—not to mention when folks give up yoga for Zumba or Egyptian belly dancing and don’t have a use for it anymore… Sigh. I am far too cynical for my own good. Keep reading and commenting!

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I'm a smart, sassy, globally-mobile freelance writer, content creator, brand journalist and nonprofit storyteller. The world is my office. Email me to find out more.
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