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Everyone should read this article, the first in a series in the New York Times. It's heartbreaking but it's something we have to know about and fight.
I can't quite believe it myself, but today is the 40th anniversary of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project. On September 1, 1972 Harvey Croze and I started photographing the Amboseli elephants for individual recognition. The first family we came upon was assigned the letter 'A'. We named the matriarch Annabel, the next oldest female was called Wart Ear because she had a large wart on one ear. She should have been given a name beginning with 'A', but Wart Ear stuck. Two years later she became the matriarch of her family and held that position for the next 22 years.
During the first three years of the Amboseli elephant study we registered most of the families and by the time I set up a permanent camp in the center of the Park in September 1975, I knew 43 different families. There were, however, a few latecomers. In 1976 four families appeared to immigrate in from the east. All (GB, IB, KB, OB) eventually stayed and used the central part of the Park.
The eight months old Albino calf’s mother was first discovered missing approximately three weeks ago. No one here in Amboseli Elephant Research Project knows exactly what caused her disappearance but we suspect she fell victim after the recent crisis in Amboseli that lead to spearing and ultimately death for some animals. Elephant mothers rarely abandon their calves and go missing so it’s safe to assume that she is definitely dead at only 44 years of age. At the moment it’s fingers crossed when censusing our population hoping no more are missing.
We are pleased to announce that we are re-designing our website. As the process unfolds, we shall be 'turning off' the commenting feature of the current website. We shall continue to post our news and family histories on the site, along with our scientific articles and research news, as well as important data and text archives.
The crucial August 6th meeting between the Amboseli community and Kenya Wildlife Service occurred as scheduled with the Director Julius Kipng'etich leading the delegation. Nothing was resolved on the spot but tempers were cool and there was rational dialogue.
A section of the community presented KWS with a memorandum which the Director agreed to put before the board and ministry. They are supposed to respond in 21 days.
The Chairman of Olgulului Group Ranch (the one that surrounds most of Amboseli National Park) said that no more animals would be killed.
Amboseli has returned to relative calm after a meeting held by the Maasai leaders. They have set August 6 as the date to meet the KWS Director and have told the warriors to stop any killing. We hope the outcome will be calm and reasonable.
The Amboseli Trust for Elephants is sorry to have to report a serious crisis in the Amboseli ecosystem. A long-standing controversy over the status of the Park has once more escalated into direct conflict. The moran (warriors) have been ordered by their leaders to kill wildlife outside the Park boundary, on community lands. Our Deputy Director for Community Affairs, Soila Sayialel, has been involved in meeting with all stakeholders and we are carefully monitoring the situation, but there are many rumors in circulation.
The PA family has always been big and fluid and frequently confusing. It was the first family in the population to permanently split into two; there have been others since then but it is not a common occurrence. Up until 1982 the Ps, as they were called then, made up the largest family in the Amboseli population. They were a magnificent group when my colleague Harvey Croze and I first saw them on October 20, 1973. There were so many big adult females that it was all we could do to just photograph them on that day.
Discovery Channel is airing an important documentary on elephant poaching and the ivory trade at 8:00PM on June 23 in the US. Be sure to see it. I, along with several other conservationist working in Kenya, were interviewed and appear in the program. The filmmakers also went to Central Africa, Malaysia and China.