After Sudan The Rhino: The Air Safari Seeking To Save Kenya's Other Endangered Species
The male elephants were in must, which meant they were randy, aggressive and unpredictable. “Don’t move,” whispered Bernard, my guide, as a giant bull approached our Land Cruiser and peered down
its enormous tusks at me. Move? I was frozen solid. Never had I witnessed such dangerous beauty, so close up.
I was still buzzing by the time we arrived at Save the Elephants, a UK-registered charity that operates out of a ramshackle research centre in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Here, I was brought down to earth by some sobering exhibits at the on-site museum.
“We often see this,” said Frank Pope, the charity’s chief executive officer, pointing to bullet holes in an elephant’s skull. “If you ran this through a metal detector, you’d find it was full of lead.”
It’s a familiar story in Africa, where the population of savannah elephants has crashed from an estimated 1.3 million in 1969 to just 415,000 today. Statistics to you and me, mutilated bodies to the team at Save the
Elephants, who have documented the slaughter.
That was the bad news; the good news?
“We anticipate the poaching crisis will end,” said Frank, citing China’s recent ivory ban – which Save the Elephants lobbied for – as a reason to be optimistic. “They’ve gone from being the biggest problem to one of the loudest voices against the ivory trade.”
I was visiting Save the Elephants as part of a new endangered species safari in Kenya, devised by Torben Rune, the conservation-minded MD of Scenic Air Safaris. That such a package exists is a damning indictment of our stewardship of our environment, and this week's death of Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhino, in Kenya is a reminder of how much we have already lost - but it is hoped the experience will raise awareness among the privileged and influential about the parlous state of Africa’s wildlife.
The USP is access – to remote locations, vulnerable wildlife and pioneering conservationists – and though the subject matter can be challenging, the safari offers fascinating insights alongside unashamed luxury. Travel to national parks and wildlife conservancies is by private plane, and accommodation is at
high-end lodges, where lavish boudoirs, fine cuisine and infinity pools await.
Discover more at telegraph.co.uk