hands off elephants

The Road to Amboseli by Steven Kitoto

Amboseli is one of those parks I have visited severally and I absolutely love it. Why you may ask? Mainly because it is the home of elephants, I believe just one of the most beautiful creatures to observe and photograph. The first time I went to Amboseli was 2013, its was such an epic short journey I had to make my way there again. After several solo trips it was time for an OnetouchLive trip to Amboseli, and this one was special because it was gonna be a long one, about 3 nights in the park ... I was really exited for this.

 

Heading to Amboseli head west on Mombasa Road/A109 till you get to Emali, thereafter you take a left onto the C102 all the way to Kimana (roughly 86 kms), just slightly after Kimana town you take a right onto the C103 which shall lead you directly to the gate.

This trip proved quite eventful and the longest 255 km trip I have ever made in my life. On departure, just slightly past Sultan Hamud, Lisa (pictured on the left), burst a pipe and spewed all the engine oil. In such moments is when you realize getting help out there is quite the challenge ... we had to look for a place that sells oil and purchase at the same time we got some road side mechanics who quickly came to the rescue and fixed the pipe, due to pressure it was unstable so they provided a fix for us.

We went on ahead and stopped in Emali to confirm all is well with the car and also check why it was losing power, by this time it was already past 6pm and we hadn't even turned off the main highway (A109).

Luanda at camp

Luanda at camp

From Emali to Kimana the ride was smooth we made good time but just after Kimana, as you turn off to the C103 the road is a marram road that is quite rough. By this time it was already too late to make it to the park gate so we had to call ahead and said we are on our way because our campsite was in the park. On that marram road, Lisa just went off and lost all momentum and couldn't move we we baffled and wondered what to do. only option in the middle of nowhere was to tow the vehicle all the way to the gate which was a really rough road of about 15 kms. We arrived at the campsite around 11pm after a really long treacherous ride but the plan was to get the park mechanic to come look at the car in the morning and we called it a night, to prepare to head out early morning for a game drive.

The morning was magical, the elephants came out to play and we enjoyed the shoot, due to Lisa being down we squeezed 7 people in one car to shoot the morning game drive. 

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

After that game drive, we had to call in a mechanic who came to check on Lisa, We eventually had to call for a back up car now that Lisa was unrepairable after the mechanics diagnosis. This meant that Lisa had to be towed back to Kimana to a garage there until further notice. Despite the car trouble, we had to continue shooting and having fun in this awesome park.

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There was this morning we stumbled upon lions (which are a rare sight to behold in Amboseli), these young males casually strolling in the park very playful gave us some nice entertainment.

Out here its a matter of anything for the shot

Out here its a matter of anything for the shot

I hope you enjoyed the blog, feel free to like, comment and share! Amboseli was good to me, join me next time as I tell of my next adventure.

Hands off elephants by Steven Kitoto

One of the largest known elephants was Jumbo, whose name is thought to be derived from the Swahili word for ‘boss’ or ‘chief.’ He is the reason we now use the word ‘jumbo’ to mean ‘huge.’

Ivory-seeking poachers have killed 100,000 African elephants in just three years, according to a new study that provides the first reliable continent-wide estimates of illegal kills. During 2011 alone, roughly one of every twelve African elephants was killed by a poacher.

African elephants are the world's largest land animals. The biggest can be up to 7.5m long, 3.3m high at the shoulder, and 6 tonnes in weight. 

The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?
— David Attenborough

Elephants and humans share a long history throughout our civilization. The expanse of the African habitat and the enormous size and aggressive posture of the African elephant has allowed it to resist captivity. But the Asian elephant has lived alongside humans for over 4,000 years and is imbued with reverence, tradition and spirituality across many cultures. In Thailand, the elephant is a national icon: it has a national holiday designated in its honor and elephants can receive a Royal title from the King.

Yet while elephants have lived alongside humans for so long, there is still much we don’t know about them. With the largest brain of any land animal, they are smart, sentient, social and empathetic, qualities we strive for ourselves. We share so many characteristics with elephants that they may well be more like us than any other animal. But we are risking their future and, in the process, damaging the integral habitat required for biodiversity throughout Asia and Africa.

The trunk is an extension of the upper lip and nose and is used for communication and handling objects, including food. African elephants have two opposing extensions at the end of their trunks, in contrast to the Asian elephant, which only has one. Despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers.

Their ivory tusks are the most sought after, but their meat and skin are also traded. Tens of thousands of elephants are killed every year for their tusks. The ivory is often carved into ornaments and jewelry – China is the biggest consumer market for such products.

Meanwhile, as the human population expands, more land is being converted to agriculture. So elephant habitat is shrinking and becoming more fragmented. This means elephants and people come into contact more often, and conflicts occur.

Elephants sometimes raid farmers’ fields and damage their crops – affecting the farmers’ livelihoods – and may even kill people. Elephants are sometimes killed in retaliation. With human populations continuing to grow across their range, habitat loss and degradation will remain major threats to elephants' survival.

This means elephants and people come into contact more often, and conflicts occur. Elephants sometimes raid farmers’ fields and damage their crops – affecting the farmers’ livelihoods – and may even kill people. Elephants are sometimes killed in retaliation. With human populations continuing to grow across their range, habitat loss and degradation will remain major threats to elephants' survival. A good thing is that, Significant elephant populations are now confined to well-protected areas. However, less than 20% of African elephant habitat is under formal protection.

Elephants are running out of space and time. Before we know it they will be gone — unless we collectively stop the senseless poaching and consumer demand for ivory, and allocate protected natural habitat in countries where elephants and other wildlife can thrive now, and in the future.

Because without elephants, just what kind of world would it be?

Without elephants there will be major habitat changes, with negative effects on the many species that depend on the lost habitat.
— Samuel Wasser, University of Washington