These are only 5 of the 30 or more carcasses we know of over the last two years. There are many more that we don’t know of. All of them were killed and their faces hacked off for their tusks, all within a radius of less than 5 kilometers from the camp. Some, 4 in fact, died only a few hundred meters from the camp as if in a desperate last attempt to reach a place of safety.
Some of you might wonder if this could really be true? Many of you who visited the camp last year and this year has witnessed this tragedy for yourselves. Please comment on the post “What are we going to do?” We really need your backing in this to help us fight this madness.
My aim is to create as much awareness of this problem as possible. We need all the help and support we can get.
Kashu, Leudi and I are thinking of recruiting and training community wildlife scouts that can patrol the area and bring back information about any suspicious people walking around in the elephant corridor between the Forest of the Lost Child and the Acacia Woodland valley below the camp. We would then be able to connect with the Kenya Wildlife Services and have them patrol the area together with our scouts.
My aim with the camp since the beginning has been to prevent this kind of disaster from happening. My belief was that if the community could benefit well from eco tourism in their area, they would not involve themselves with such activities as poaching and deforestation. Were we too late? Olkoroi Camp only started last year and the community has benefitted, but they will only really see the benefit of it in the next few years to come. That is if there remain a strong enough attraction for westerners to come and experience and see. The Loita forest remains one of the last few wilderness areas where you can still track and see elephants by foot following age-old elephant paths. If the elephant population crash and they all disappear from the area, then so might the camp and all the hopes and potential that goes with it.
It must be said here that the community at large is very much opposed to poaching. There are few individuals in the community who are involved with this activity. The initiative for ivory poaching comes from outside and these are syndicates who orchestrate and carry out the killings. Community members are often lured and hooked because they are desperate to earn some money to feed their families. The only way that the poaching can be stopped is if the Maasai community can benefit enough through sustainable eco tourism until they can not afford to lose these animals. Involving the community with protecting these elephants by training and employing wildlife scouts is one way that can create an incentive for them to value these animals. Let us hope it is not too late…