VIDEO: On the Front Line in Africa to Save the Elephant

With dust in my mouth earlier this morning, I could only marvel at the International Fund for Animal Welfare team here in Tsavo working with the staff from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as we take part in the first elephant collaring exercise since 1972.

See the NTDTV video segment featuring the author, IFAW CEO Fred O'Regan, below.

We are here for an important undertaking: to collar a small number of elephants and then track them to see where they migrate and when. By tracking both bulls and females, KWS and IFAW scientists can determine migratory patterns to better avoid elephant-human conflict, a key factor in the decline in elephant populations.

I watched entranced as the helicopter pilot circled in on the target - aiming for an incredibly large bull elephant. It is vital to ensure a clean shot with the tranquiliser to avoid any unnecessary trauma to the animal.

Once the elephant slowly collapsed to the ground, the vet crew worked so fast, with KWS rangers standing by to ensure their safety. Otherwise, everyone's focus was on the health and safety of the elephant.

With his breathing coming steadily, the vets took blood samples, measurements and other scientific data. The collar was attached, fitted well, and checked and double checked to ensure everything was working as it should.

Before the revival jab was given, most of the crew retreated to the safety of their vehicles, watching carefully as the massive bull regained consciousness.

He was a little tentative at first, but soon was on his feet ... and not happy at having his day so rudely interrupted.

This is conservation work on the front lines.

IFAW is committed to protecting elephants and works on a wide range of projects including this one - where we are collaring eight elephants to discover more about their movements.

By tracking these individuals, we can learn how to minimise human-elephant conflict through water-hole location, and securing and maintaining elephant corridors.

We can't save elephants if we don't work with those who share their environment.

And working with local communities throughout Africa and India is saving lives - both human and elephant.

Tomorrow will be another early start as we move to another location in the Park and another bull elephant - all in a day's work for the team here - but a once in a lifetime experience for me.

I know that the data we will collect from the collars of these elephants will help us make life-saving decisions.

And I also know that the sight of these magnificent animals in their natural habitat will inspire all of us to work even harder to protect them from the ever-increasing threats they face as their world shrinks around them.


Comments: 3

6 years ago

The World will stink if these creatures ever become extinct!

7 years ago

[...] Read Fred’s post from his first day working with the KWS here. [...]

7 years ago

[...] This week, the International Fund for Animal Welfare is working with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to collar... in Tsavo East National Park in an effort to learn more about elephant movements in and out of the [...]

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu,Direktorin Frankreich und frankophones Afrika
Direktorin Frankreich und frankophones Afrika
Dr. Joseph Okori, Regionaldirektor Südliches Afrika und Programmdirektor Natursc
Regionaldirektor Südliches Afrika und Programmdirektor Naturschutz
Faye Cuevas, Esq., Vizepräsidentin
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regionaldirektorin Asien
Regionaldirektorin Asien
James Isiche, Regionaldirektor Ostafrika
Regionaldirektor Ostafrika
Jason Bell, IFAW Vizepräsident Natur- und Tierschutz
Vizepräsident Natur- und Tierschutz
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Vivek Menon, IFAW Senior-Berater Strategische Partnerschaften
Senior-Berater Strategische Partnerschaften