It all started a few days ago, outside of Big Life’s area of operation, within Motikanju Conservancy on Kuku Group Ranch, where a herd of elephants were near a crop of ripe tomatoes, looking interested. The farmer was rightly very nervous of his crop getting destroyed and attempted to push 7 elephants away from his farm with not much more than a shovel and a flashlight. What resulted was a tusk through the farmer’s gut and a life-threatening rush to the nearest hospital in a Big Life ranger vehicle.
The next day the local community then proceeded to track the herd of elephants from Kuku into Kimana. Calming the growing mob of warriors hellbent on retaliation for the farmer’s severe injury took a long time and significant support from Kenya Wildlife Service, but eventually the warriors were convinced to abandon their efforts. But in the skirmish, a spear was thrown, and one elephant was later seen with a wound near her tail.
Once the community agreed to give up the chase and returned home, Big Life rangers rushed to call the KWS/SWT vet to check the elephant’s wound and confirm whether treatment was needed. Since she had a calf with her, it was decided to err on the side of caution and dart and treat the wound quickly, to give her and her calf the best chance of survival.
The farmer is recovering, and very lucky to be alive. And the elephants are equally lucky, and will hopefully stay away from farms.
This kind of human-wildlife conflict is becoming more and more common. We’re working with the local community to make sure that critical habitat areas are kept clear for wildlife to use safely in the wake of land-use changes and increasing human development.
In the meantime, our rangers will be there to help keep both people and wildlife safe.