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Trouble Elephants Get a New Home

August 15, 2013

Javet, Right Notch, Bullet and Flynn – these are the names of four elephant bulls recently moved from Lewa to  Meru National Park to reduce fence breakages and crop destruction that had become rampant in the last few months. Using their famed intelligence, the pachyderms had devised various techniques to break past Lewa's external and internal fence lines, damaging Lewa's main perimeter fence that not only prevents entry of unauthorized persons but also ensures that animals don't roam outside the Conservancy and into community areas.  

Further damage had been caused to the exclusion zones, areas set aside to prevent entry of mega herbivores, predominantly elephants and giraffes, and therefore secure browse for the critically endangered black rhino.  

The exercise was a grueling two-day event that involved a large experienced team from the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Field rangers were sent out to look for the jumbos at the onset of the first light. Right Notch was the first elephant to be identified and promptly, 'Sue' Lewa's helicopter, took up Lewa's resident vet Dr. Matthew Mutinda who successful darted and immobilized him.

The elephant was then lifted using a crane and moved to a heavy-duty lorry that had enough space to let him move once the effects of sedation had worn off. The operation went very well, and Right Notch was off to his new home in Meru. 

Javet was the next one to be moved. His trimmed tusks and conspicuously larger size made him easy to identify. This operation was equally a success, and the elephant arrived safely at Meru National Park. Two days later, Flynn and Bullet were also translocated from Kamwaki, an area near Lewa's boundary to the new habitat. One of these elephants, Flynn, has been fitted with a GSM enabled collar and is tracked on Google Earth Interface.

The elephants are doing well so far in their new habitat and will continue to be monitored to ensure their well-being. 

About Meru National Park

The park covers an area of roughly 870 square kilometres and hosts a plethora of wildlife species, with sparsely populated neighbouring human settlements. The park's expansive size enables it to hold mega herbivores without depletion of resources, making it a conducive environment for the elephants. Wildlife on Meru National Park is managed and protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service.