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NAMUNYAK WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY

HOME OF RETITI ELEPHANT TRUST & THE SINGING WELLS


Baby elephants at a waterhole

Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in Samburu County of Northern Kenya is home to the first community owned elephant sanctuary in Africa since 2016 – Retiti Elephant Sanctuary.


It is designed to rescue and release orphaned and abandoned elephant calves, whilst creating much needed benefits to the local people that live alongside them. The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is the representation of the communities standing up united for wildlife, in recognition of the value that they can cultivate.

The orphaned elephants that are cared for by the Samburu community are symbols of a new wave of thinking about wildlife and the environment that goes far beyond traditional conservation methods, and dives deeper into the core value of what nature represents.


Between 10 and 25 elephant calves are rescued in Northern Kenya each year. Elephant calves in Northern Kenya are orphaned or abandoned due to drought, man-made wells, human-wildlife conflict and natural mortality. The Sanctuary was established in response to demands from the local community.


The Kenya Wildlife Service and Samburu County Government have promoted the establishment of the new Sanctuary, recognising the wish of the local community to retain their elephants within Samburu County and seeing local communities taking a lead in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing elephants within their home range.


Elephant keeper feeding the baby with milk

All the keepers are from the local community and are formally trained in the care, rehabilitation and release of elephant calves. An elected board from within the community oversee all operational aspects of the Sanctuary. This facility also houses a mobile elephant rescue team that works daily on elephant rescue, community awareness and the mitigation of human/wildlife conflict.


The elephants are fed by goat milk which is provided by the community around and creates income to more than 500 Samburu women in the area. 


Animals and warrior at the well

Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy is also the home of the „Singing wells“.

The Samburu people that neighbour Retiti  have an age-old tradition called ‘The Singing Wells’. This is not arranged, nor is it put on for the tourists; we simply have the great pleasure of observing this daily ritual, taking in its purity with deep fascination.


With water a precious resource in this dry and desolate land, the warriors dedicate the day to digging deep wells for drinking water for their livestock. Watch as the tall warriors strip naked and begin to sing as they dig. Deep and resonant, the melody creates a hypnotic rhythm that the tribe works to as one.


Each warrior’s herd will recognise and respond to their master’s voice, using it to locate their particular well. With a bit luck you can see them while your visit at Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy as well.

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