On June 15, Mara Elephant Project in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) collared a bull elephant, Shamba, that was injured after being caught in farms by rapidly rising waters across the Mara River. In addition to his new collar, KWS Vet Dr. Limo and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mara Mobile Vet Unit removed four arrows and treated a spear wound.
The arrows and spears removed from Shamba.
The satellite collar allowed us to not only monitor his recovery, but also react to his future crop raiding. This area has seen a high level of human-elephant conflict historically because it’s heavily populated with many people farming right across the Mara River from the Ol Choro Oiroua Conservancy, a safe place for elephants to roam.
Shamba was monitored until his time of death 10 days later. On June 25, MEP received an immobility alert from his collar at 4:15 a.m. and when we reached his location at 8 a.m. he was found dead and scavenged. The cause of death was determined by a KWS autopsy as most likely thromboembolism from the originally treated spear wound on his chest. While the team’s joint efforts to treat and collar this elephant to save his life weren’t successful, this time, if the elephant had not been collared, we wouldn’t have gotten to the carcass quickly enough to identify the cause of death; an important data point to collect in the Mara to protect future elephants. The MEP team was able to recover Shamba’s elephant collar to re-deploy this year.
Shamba’s story, while sad, represents a common one told in the Mara; the struggle between elephants and farmers continues. This is why KWS and MEP believe that collaring key elephant candidates in response to conflict is a successful approach in order to monitor their movements in real-time and collect important data for land use planning.
MEP’s Data and Reporting Manager Wilson Sairowua was tasked with collecting information for the collaring sheet. He’s seen here collecting data on the length and width of the new collared bull’s tusks.