It is now almost a month since Save the Elephants’ research camp was hit by massive floods. Our rebuilding process is ongoing and slowly by slowly, with your continued support, we are finding our feet. During the flash-flood one of our local Kenyan intern, Zeituna, was at the camp. Three others (two Dutch interns who had just arrived in the country to start their research with us and Benjamin, another of our local Kenyan intern) joined her soon after. We asked them to give share their experiences with our readers and supporters and this is what they had to say:
Helping at the STE camp after the flood
Benjamin Loloju – STE Intern
The waters came unexpectedly and brought loss that everyone felt. I particularly felt affected as the property of my dear sponsors both Save The Elephants and Elephant Watch were destroyed. The pain is in my heart. I did not believe my eyes and what I was seeing, I thought they were cheating me. I was not present when the hungry waters came but the loss I saw was beyond measure! Millions of money went with the floods that to this minute have left me mouth agape. Every day I go to river to see the water but now the waters are very innocent, perhaps unbelievable. Coming to the camp and lending a hand is what I love most. I have a passion to help and to what Save The Elephants and Elephant Watch have done to me I deserve to help. There is still work of cleaning up the camp and I am jubilant to be among the work force. For now great care must be taken because due to change in climate and global warming nature can defie itself again.
P.S. We are very happy to announce that Benjamin, one of the local students supported by kind donors through our Save the Elephants/Elephant Watch Programme, sat his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination last year and had just received the good news that he passed with flying colors! He had a mean grade of A (English A, Kiswahili A-, Maths A, Biology A-, Physics A-, Chemistry B+, Business Studies A, CRE A) and was our best achiever last year. Congratulations Benjamin, you have done us real proud! For more information on our scholarship programme please visit our website.
The day our camp was washed away by floods
by Zeituna Mustafa – STE intern
I am Zeituna Mustafa and I am a Kenyan intern at STE camp and I also experienced the floods. The floods happened on the 4th of march. We were alerted before the floods reached our camp by our sister camp which is called Elephant Watch Safaris. Everyone in the camp woke up early and we started removing our belongings from our tents and put them outside.The river started flowing towards our tents. The water started coming in high speed and we had to run to the office and rescue the important documents and equipments like the satellite collars and some files. All in all we had to leave the area because the water was getting higher, that is up to the knee. The force of the water was very high, we had to hold hands when crossing to the other side where there was a hill. We sat on the hill for four hours as we were waiting for the water to reduce you could hear tents roofs collapsing and also huge trees falling down. When the water reduced in volume we went back to the camp .It was a trauma seeing all buildings demolished and the mud was knee high you could not move. Our well which is the source of water was demolished and all the food in the kitchen had been washed away. The bridge which is the link to the other part of the reserve and also to airstrip was also demolished and we didn’t have another route to use. Our only hope was our director Iain who did his best and flew his plane to another small airstrip and rescue us with food and water. Through teamwork we did alot in the camp like removing the mud from the building and rescuing important documents and electronics and drying them. We also had to sleep in small tents for the time being. We also rescued a person from the local community around the reserve who drowned in the river and supported himself with the roots he was unconscious when we rescued him we gave him hot tea and also covered him with a blanket until the following day. He got well the next day and we took him home.
We are also happy to announce that Zeituna, another of the local students supported by kind donors through our Save the Elephants/Elephant Watch Programme, sat her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination last year and she too had just received the good news that she had passed very well indeed! She got a mean grade of B (English B+, Kiswahili A-, Maths B, Biology C+, Physics C+, History B+, Agriculture B). Congratulations Zeituna, you have done us proud! For more information on our scholarship programme please visit our website.
Flood Update by STE interns
Edwin Pos & Jos Sleegers
Students from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands
Today it is the twelfth of March, little over a week after the massive flooding occurred here at the Research Camp in the Samburu National Reserve. The entire camp was virtually destroyed, equipment was either washed away or covered in mud and there were only a few things left standing. What started out to be the beginning of an interesting internship studying the vegetation of the reserve in relationship to the elephants, turned into the rebuilding of the research camp and trying to salvage what was left of the camp. In cooperation with the staff of the STE we decided to help out as much as we can to clean up and rebuild the camp and the past few days everybody has been working incredibly hard to get the camp back at an operational level. Basic sanitary in the form a pit in the ground as a toilet and two small cabins made of tarp to wash yourself with a bucket have been set up, borehole and rainwater for drinking has been boiled and filtered and a huge amount of mud has been cleared out from practically everywhere. The power has been restored and, as the satellite dish was on top of the hill, we still have access to the world wide web. Thanks to recent supplies such as clean water and food brought to us by several trustees and others we are managing it and try to make the best of it. Among all the work, the reality of the flood suddenly came very close when a man washed up to the banks of the river right next to the research camp justa few day ago, completely exhausted and looking more dead than alive. With a couple of guys we got him out and due to some quick thinking of the staff of the STE, he survived and has left the camp again. As always, things like this all come at the same time and a lot has been done but there is still a long way to go. Soon we will be able to start our research as the elephants are moving back in the reserve, we will try to keep you posted!