Reteti Elephant Sanctuary…The community that stood up for their once sworn enemy.

The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary was officially opened by the Samburu County Governor, H.E Moses Lenolkulal, on the 20th August 2016. 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.

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Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy located in the remote Mathews Range among Kenya’s second largest elephant population. Similarly to the world-famous Sheldrick Orphanage in Nairobi, it provides protection for orphaned and abandoned elephant calves (and others – including Sera’s abandoned rhino calf – Loijupu!) with an aim to release them back into the wild herds adjoining the Sanctuary. Like Sera’s Rhino Sanctuary, Reteti is the first community owned and managed Elephant Sanctuary in Africa.

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Although elephant poaching has fallen significantly in the conservancies around Reteti, elephant calves are still sometimes orphaned or abandoned due to poaching, falling into wells, drought (potentially causing mothers to stop lactating), human-wildlife conflict and natural mortality. Around five to ten calves are rescued in northern Kenya each year, from a population of over 8,000. Within the sanctuary, young animals are treated and cared for by the dedicated keeper team, recruited from the local communities. A mobile elephant rescue unit, with specially-trained staff, returns lost calves directly to their family whenever it can, and also works with surrounding communities to raise awareness and mitigate human/wildlife conflict.

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When visitors arrive at the sanctuary, there is an introduction by one of the keepers and an opportunity to witness one of the feeding sessions from a shady, elevated platform looking down into the main enclosure. The baby elephants are bottle-fed individually by the keepers, up close to the viewing platform. Witnessing the genuine love and care that the keepers have for their young charges is truly touching – and something that is clearly reciprocated by the elephants when observing their interactions with their keepers.

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