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Big Beasts and Great Works

In April this year, John and Nicci were thrilled to have their eldest daughter, Briar and her 20-month old son, Oscar, come to visit from Australia. Oscar was born in Australia and had never seen the wild African animals or the beautiful bush around which his grandparents’ lives and work revolve. John was especially keen for Oscar to meet the gentle giants of the wild - a rhino and an elephant. So an expedition to Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation was planned…

Oscar meets Tatenda, Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation

This newsletter celebrates the elephants and rhinos of Africa; beautiful, gentle, big beasts that have lived on our continent for centuries and now face complete annihilation in our lifetime.

“We hope that you are as interested in reading about the hard work, hope and help that is going on out there every minute of every day - so that future generations can enjoy these wonderful creatures in the wild for a long time to come.” John Stevens

Since 2008, there has been a massively increased demand for ivory from China and the Far East. Ivory prices have soared from $200 a pound in 2004 to in excess of $1500 a pound today. Some experts estimate that as many as 35,000 elephants a year are being slaughtered, 10% of Africa's elephant population each year alone. And the killing isn't limited to just elephants. Powdered rhino horn is now more expensive than gold.
(Excerpt from

What you need to know
African elephants in the wild
Black rhinos

N.B. These figures are accurate at time of putting together this newsletter.
Source: Save the Rhino and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Great Works for Gentle Giants

Save the Elephants – Dr Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton

One of the world's foremost authorities on the African elephant, Iain Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behaviour in Tanzania's Lake Manyara National Park at age 23. Today he is recognised as one of the world’s foremost authorities on elephant conservation.

Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton, world-famous elephant conservationists and owners and hosts of Elephant Watch Safaris in Kenya’s Samburu Reserve, offer an enchanting experience. Visitors to their beautiful camp enjoy extraordinary encounters with Africa’s giants, the elephants, in what is considered one of eco-tourism’s greatest achievements.

Iain and Oria created the first Africa-wide elephant census, were the first to alert the world to the ivory poaching crisis and have worked tirelessly for a worldwide ivory trade ban.

This highly respected and likeable couple made Elephant Watching in Samburu their life, living amongst the elephants, learning their behaviour and integrating their findings into important conservation and management strategies.

They wanted a place where guests and locals could enjoy the benefits of their knowledge and experience and so, when the idea of setting up a camp was suggested, Oria wasted no time in finding the perfect location alongside a river bank not far from the research station.

She asked the local Samburu tribe elders for their best men, whom she then employed and trained to help build and run the camp, and today, amongst these young warriors, you’ll find some of the best elephant guides and conservationists in Africa. Their traditional knowledge, sharp eyes, passion and sense of humour bring to Oria’s camp in the wonderful Kenyan wilderness a unique and fascinating facet.

The website for Elephant Watch Camp is currently under construction, but you can read more about it here...

Do let us know if you’d like to visit this incredible camp and we will be happy to arrange it for you!

The Tashinga Initiative

The Tashinga Initiative is a wildlife protection project that operates in the Zambezi Valley in the north of Zimbabwe. The Initiative’s long-term goal is explained - “Integrity of our Protected Areas sustainably maintained”.

Above: Matusadona Elephant - Tashinga

The incredibly valuable Parks and Wildlife Estate and World Heritage Sites that lie throughout the Zambezi River Valley are the Tashinga Initiative’s focus and, more specifically right now, on looking after the wellbeing of the Field Rangers who work in the area. These courageous rangers play a key part in the protection of our wildlife and so the Tashinga Initiative works to provide them and their families with a level of both personal and work security – training, equipment at field stations, including communication systems, anti-poaching and specialist tracking kits, education for Rangers’ children and the immediate community.
The local Zimbabwean Shona word “Tashinga” means “after a long and determined effort, against all odds, we finally win through”…sometimes explained by a Ranger by putting his hand to his heart and saying “…Lion Heart…”

Ralph Stutchbury

By Ralph Stutchbury

Review by Michael Lorentz
“A visual feast for Elephant lovers, this coffee table book comprises 112 pages of high quality Elephant portraits taken from all over Southern Africa.”

“(Ralph Stutchbury’s) images document the lives of these charismatic giants and are annotated with short and insightful facts about their behaviour and characteristics. Apart from giving us an accurate and succinct glimpse into these magnificent creatures’ daily lives, the information also serves to remind us of the constant threats that face the world’s largest land mammal.

“… I am sure that anyone who has enjoyed the privilege of observing these gentle giants in the wild will be enchanted by these photographs. For those that haven’t yet had the opportunity to see these Pachyderms in their natural environment, this book will surely pull on your heartstrings and inspire you to visit Africa.”

All Elephant photographs, unless otherwise credited, by Ralph Stutchbury.

Big Life Foundation

Big Life is the only organisation in East Africa with co-ordinated cross-border anti-poaching operations.

Big Life Foundation was founded by photographer Nick Brandt & conservationist Richard Bonham in October 2010.

With Richard Bonham as Director of Operations for Big Life in Africa, and Project Manager Damian Bell in Tanzania, Big Life has now expanded to employ 280 rangers, with 24 outposts and 15 vehicles protecting 2 million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem of E. Africa.

Also see -

Every Day is Mother's Day for Elephants

(With thanks to African Travel)

While Americans celebrate Mother’s Day just once a year in our human realm, every day is Mother’s Day for elephants! Why?

Completely matriarchal, elephant societies are led by the oldest and largest mother in the family, and the entire herd is made up of other mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts.

Watching these closely-knit elephant families play, work, feed and care for each other is an experience clients never forget and we know the best places in Africa to find these fascinating elephant mothers!

Amboseli National Park in Kenya is famous for getting up-close and personal to some of the largest free roaming elephants in Africa. Covering 150 square miles near the Tanzania border, Amboseli is home to over 900 elephants as well as zebra, wildebeests, giraffes, impala, leopards, lions, hippos, antelope, rhinos, wild dogs, hyenas, cheetah, buffalo, and more than 400 species of birds.

We've just seen...
National Ballet's "When They're Gone"

Inspired by the true story of an orphaned rhino, hand reared at Save Conservancy and integrated back into the wild, this wonderful show put on by Zimbabwe’s National Ballet Company features all the animals that are familiar to us; the interpretations of them in both look and movement through a variety of dance genres is simple but superbly done. The message of wildlife conservation is strong and we’d love to see it travel beyond our borders, in particular to the Far East, to help raise awareness of the vital importance of conservation.

If you have any ideas on how this might be achieved or would like to explore the idea of supporting a tour for this important message, please contact Nicci for a lively discussion!

Foster an Orphaned Elephant

In Kenya, an Elephant Nursery situated in Nairobi under the auspices of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, overseen by Dr. Daphne Sheldrick, whose elephant experience spans a lifetime, and with the cooperation of the Kenya Wildlife Service, offers hope for any orphaned elephant fortunate enough to be found alive. And now you can play a part, too.

It took Daphne Sheldrick 28 years of trial and error during the years that her husband was Warden of Kenya's largest and most important elephant sanctuary, Tsavo East National Park, to perfect the milk formula and complex husbandry necessary to rear orphaned infant African elephants. Today, with the financial help of many caring folk worldwide, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is proud to have saved what amounts to a herd; over 60 orphaned infant calves that would otherwise have perished.

More importantly, every one of these orphans can look forward to a quality of life in wild terms, living free in Tsavo East National Park encompassed by their new extended orphaned family and friends amongst the wild herds in a National Park that offers elephants the S P A C E they need - the 8,000 square miles of pristine wilderness that is TSAVO.

Newest Arrival at the Trust:

Gender: Female
Date of Birth: Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Location Found: Msinga Hill - Tsavo East National Park
Age on Arrival: Estimated to be as young as just a day old
Comments on Place Found: Found 3 kilometers from Masinga Hill following tour vans, fate of mother and herd unknown
Reason for being Orphaned: Reason Unknown

Further Reading: Please Explore these Interesting Links

See Tatenda’s story here...

Read more about Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation and their Rhino Breeding Programme here…

Abu Camp, Botswana (The Original Elephant Experience) -

Ralph Stutchbury “Elephant” -

Iain and Oria Doughlas-Hamilton - and

SAVE African Rhino Foundation -

Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust, Midlands Conservancy, Zimbabwe -

Lawrence Anthony “The Elephant Whisperer” –

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust -

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