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Amboseli National Park: Kenya, Africa Travel Guide

Amboseli National Park: Kenya, Africa Travel Guide

It’s hard for me to believe it but just a mere three weeks ago I travelled to Kenya, Africa with Amarula with the hopes of assisting them in educating others (as well as being educated myself) on all the work being done in collaboration with Amarula, Wildlife Direct, and Amboseli Trust for Elephants to help stop the poaching of elephants for ivory across Africa, whose numbers have been in sharp decline over the past few decades.

And yes, while I was contracted through sponsored posts on my instagram feed to help promote this campaign I was not contracted or compensated to write this blog post. Despite this I felt the need to further elaborate on my time there and what I learned because it was one of those experiences that will change your life forever. Not to mention it is such a worthy cause that I feel that if my little space in the online world helps in any way to help save these precious creatures that it is without a doubt worth a complete write up if not more!

Where I Stayed: Amboseli National Park

The trip took place right inside Amboseli National Park. One of the largest and most well known national parks in Kenya, Amboseli is known for it’s large herds of elephants and sweeping views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Now making the trip here from Canada was not easy. It took 1.5 days which included 4 flights going from Toronto to New York, then to South Africa, then to Nairobi, and finally a bush plane to get to this place. Needless to say I was tired, jet lagged and wondering whether all this travel would be worth it.

I have to say that I have never taken a trip like this before. Most of my trips (ok, well all of them if I’m being honest) involved me being in a city setting or at some sort of tropical resort. But once I arrived it was immediately unlike anything I had ever seen.

Amboseli has various types of accommodations which are available to visitors of the park. Many choose to make use of the camp sites available but there are also several lodging and hotel options available on site. We stayed at the  Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, which was beautiful decorated with traditional Kenyan colours, murals, and decor reflective of the ancient Kenyan Masaai tribe.

Amboseli National Park: Serena Safari Lodge, Room Suite
Amboseli National Park: Serena Safari Lodge, Room Suite

 

Amboseli National Park: Serena Safari Lodge, Dining Area
Amboseli National Park: Serena Safari Lodge, Dining Area

What to Do: Safari Game Drives

Needless to say anyone that comes out here, whether it be for work, pleasure, or in hopes of doing their part big or small in preserving the wildlife here will no doubt spend their days on Safari game drives. It is on these drives where you will behold all the beauty that Kenya, and especially Amoseli has to offer. While views of Mount Kilimanjaro are reason enough to visit this special place it’s really the animals that are the draw here and rightfully so.

Amboseli National Park: Sunrise
Amboseli National Park: Sunrise
Amboseli National Park: Early Morning Safari Game Drives
Amboseli National Park: Early Morning Safari Game Drives

Hands Off Our Elephants – Wildlife Direct

Coming to Africa and going on a Safari has always been a dream of mine but to come here as part of a campaign to help stop animal poaching was way more than I ever could have imagined. As someone who was born and raised in North America I have never had the opportunity to see animals indigenous to Africa outside of a zoo. To see these beautiful and majestic creatures in the wild where they roam free in their natural habitat for the first time is a life changing experience. Amboseli is a place where the world is as it should be, pure, simple, and a place where all that exists here is safe.

Amboseli National Park: Learning about the human-like qualities of elephants
Amboseli National Park: Learning about the human-like qualities of elephants

As the sole Canadian chosen amongst 7 Instagrammers from around the world to participate in this campaign our trip here was special in that we were granted time with researchers and conservationists from Wildlife Direct and Amboseli Trust to learn about these beautiful animals and about all the work being done here to preserve them. One such conservationist Dr. Paula Kahumbu, has devoted her life to researching these magnificent creatures as well as being an integral part championing the passing of legislations to help protect them.

To be honest prior to coming on this trip I was naïve in that I thought that animal poaching was no longer a prevalent issue.  I mean this was 2017 and surely people knew in this day and age that poaching animals for the use of vanity like jewelry and home décor was unacceptable right?! Unfortunately I quickly learned that this was not the case and while there have been significant strides in the prevention of animal poaching it is still very much a severe and prevalent issue that is threatening the world’s wildlife populations.

Some facts about the current state of elephant populations as conducted by The Great Elephant Census:

  • Savanna elephant populations declined by 30 percent(equal to 144,000 elephants) between 2007 and 2014.
  • The current rate of decline is 8 percent per year, primarily due to poaching. The rate of decline accelerated from 2007 to 2014.
  • 352,271 elephants were counted in the 18 countries surveyed. This figure represents at least 93 percent of savanna elephants in these countries.
  • Eighty-four percent of the population surveyed was sighted in legally protected areas while 16 percent were in unprotected areas. However, high numbers of elephant carcasses were discovered in many protected areas, indicating that elephants are struggling both inside and outside parks.

 

 

Amboseli National Park: Elephants
Amboseli National Park: Elephants

Paula shared numerous stories with us about the life of elephants and how much like humans they are. Like us they have families, feel emotions, and care for one another just like you and I would care about our own loved ones. One such story that she shared with us involved the death of an elephant’s family’s matriarch. The matriarch for elephants is the oldest female and she is the backbone and lifeblood of an elephant family. She is the one who everyone else in the family looks up to and follows as she is the one who will guide them to good food and water for nourishment and to areas where they will be safe. She will teach younger female mothers how to care for their young and will even shield the other elephants with her own body on days when it is too hot to provide them with respite from the burning African sun. On the death of this one particular matriarch, due to old age, the other elephants worked together to dig an area for her remains as well as collect branches and foliage to cover her body. In addition to this they visited the site of her death and burial daily where they seemed to stop for a few moments to pay their respects the matriarch who had guided and protected their entire lives.

I myself had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the human-like interactions between these beautiful animals as during one of our safari game drives as a baby elephant laid down to sleep and all the other elephants in the family formed a circle around the baby, presumably to protect it while it rested.

A baby elephant sleeps while it's family forms a circle around it to protect it
A baby elephant sleeps while it’s family forms a circle around it to protect it

Wildlife Direct with the support of the Kenyan government has been spearheading the Hands Off our Elephants campaign to help prevent the senseless slaughter of these animals. Their biggest victory thus far has been the passing of legislation which made the poaching of animals a severe crime in Kenya. Previously the poaching of animals had a mere fine equivalent to that of 400USD, a nomial fee when you consider that the sale of ivory is a multi-million dollar industry. In 2014 they lobbied and succeeded in making elephant poaching and the trafficking of ivory a serious crime equivalent to that of drug trade with punishments that now potentially lead to life in prison. In addition they have recruited the help of public figures to help spread the word about the wildlife crisis that exists and have even created their own TV show NTV Wild which broadcasts for free and provides educational information and talks around wildlife in Africa.

Despite this there is still a lot of work that needs to be done as the decline of elephant populations is still very much a threat. In fact, one elephant is lost every 15 minutes due to animal poaching and experts estimate that at the current rate of decline that elephants will be extinct by 2030. It is not something that one person, organization, or government can accomplish on their own. It will take the work of everyone globally to do their part no matter how big or small.

 

What You Can Do To Help

Amarula – Don’t Let Them Disappear Campaign

As previously mentioned I was invited by Amarula in support of their #DontLetThemDisappear campaign. Amarula  together with Wildlife Direct and Amboseli Trust for Elephants has been on the forefront to spread awareness and pave the way to a world where the murder of these animals is not longer tolerated. As a brand with South African roots Amarula is intimately tied with the African Elephants, who in addition to being the symbol of the brand, also flourish on the Kenyan Marula fruit with which their cream liquer is made from. With so much work still needed to be done I was both honored humbled to work with a brand that recognizes that we have a responsibility to our world to protect it and all of it’s inhabitants. In 2002 the not for profit Amarula Trust was established with the sole purpose of protecting the African elephants from extinction as well as bringing sustainable environmental projects into the public light.

With less than 400,000 African Elephants remaining here is what you can do to help:

  • Hit the Poachers Where it Hurts – In the Wallet – at the core of it all what drives poachers to do what they do all boils down to money. Ivory trafficking is a multi-million dollar industry and by refusing to purchase items made from ivory it will directly reduce demand and incentive for poaching.
  • Spread Awareness – You don’t need to work for a large media outlet to spread awareness (although if you do that certainly helps!). Spreading awareness can be as simple as making a post through social media about conservation efforts and directing friends and family to resources where they can learn more.
  • Name Them Save Them: As part of their #DontLetThemDisappear campaign Amarula has launched the Name Them Save Them initiative. Based on the idea that when you know a creature by name, whether it be human or animal, you immediately build a bond. In fact, every single elephant in Amboseli National Park has a name and by creating your own personally designed elephant here and naming it Amarula will donate $1 for elephant created to Wildlife Direct (up to $70K) which will go solely to preserving these majestic animals. Oh and hey,  in addition to being for a good cause creating and naming your own elephant is not only fun but pretty damn cute! My design is below.
Name them Save Them: Design and name your own elephant at amarula.com and $1 will be donated to Wildlife Direct
Design and name your own elephant at amarula.com/trust and $1 will be donated to Wildlife Direct

 

If you’ve read this far I do appreciate it as I truly do feel like everyone has the responsibility to do their part in preserving our planet. The world doesn’t belong to businesses, sole individuals, or even humans as a species. It belongs to everyone and everything that calls earth their home including plants, animals, and creatures. We all need to work together so that our little space in the universe can be enjoyed by all for many generations to come.

Amboseli National Park: Elephant matriarch leads family
Amboseli National Park: Elephant matriarch leads family

 

Disclaimer: This blog post was not sponsored, however the corresponding images that appear on my Instagram feed were .  All opinions expressed are my own.  All information is accurate as of time of posting. Please refer to Amarula and Wildlife Direct for most up to date information.

*All images are copyrighted Allons.Y Styling & Photography. Please do not use or re-post without written consent and provide credit where applicable

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