The animal-human conflict is as real as it can get in Kenya. Local dailies are never short of headlines on elephants straying into farmland and destroying crops. Or lions attacking herds of sheep in their enclosures.
While the government has made radical steps to minimize this conflict, eliniminating it altogether has been an uphill task owing to shrinking pasture lands and periodic spells of biting drought.
Recently, ranchers have found themselves at a crossroads with pastoralists who have defied even security forces intervention to bar them from grazing their animals in conservancies. Deaths have taken place on both sides as this ugly tussle for precious pasture rages.
Herders with their cattle near zebras
For this reason, it is uncommon to find individuals caring for wild animals out to compete for natural resources with them. Nonetheless, a bunch of Samburu warriors have taken the initiative of working with the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary to rescue elephants that get stuck in water holes and get left behind by their herds.
During the dry months pastoralist communities follow elephants as they scavenge for water in dry riverbeds. They then dig deep wells, up to 15 feet, as they look for water.
Sometimes elephants stumble and get stuck in these wells. A group of Samburu warriors often rush to the cries of stuck elephants and help them out. They then care for them until they’re reunited with their herds. Sometimes their efforts end up happily, sometimes they do not.
Case in point is when Lolngojine and Lemojong rescued Kinya, an elephant calf, and nursed it as they waited for its herd to come back. When the herd failed to turn up they took it to the sanctuary and continued to care for it. Unfortunately it died before it could be reunited with its family .
While what the crop of Samburu warriors is doing might seem inconsequential at this point, it’s a sure promise of a transformation of how humans related with wild animals in an environment where competition for natural resources is cutthroat.
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