As a young lawyer, I was nervous yet excited to be stationed in Tsavo — the largest wildlife ecosystem in Kenya. This landscape carries the biggest populations of elephants in the country. Working amid this beautiful natural resource in southern Kenya is one of the reasons I took up the job with African Wildlife Foundation monitoring wildlife crime cases in the four law courts located in Tsavo.
Florence Louma is a happy woman. During the last cocoa harvest in early 2019, she made a profit of over USD $1,700, making her the top-earning female cocoa farmer in Kagnnole village, Somalomo, at the border of Dja Faunal Reserve in eastern Cameroon.
The world’s largest terrestrial mammal is also famed for being notoriously water-dependent. African savannah elephants in temperate rangelands drink water almost daily and love a mudbath to stay cool. Yet, in northern Mali’s Gourma region and the vast Namib Desert, this fascinating pachyderm survives despite the low rainfall and intense heat. These herds, aptly named desert elephants, traverse long distances in brutal arid environments with only seasonal rivers and scant vegetation for sustenance.
The newcomer to Manyara Ranch was not hard to flush out. Two rangers crept around a bend toward its hiding spot — a thicket at the edge of a large pond. With a sudden rush from the foliage, the hippo flew out and into the water with a decisive splash.
At its southern reach, Kenya’s Tsavo Conservation Area crosses into Tanzania, encompassing Mkomazi National Park and critical dispersal areas for the region’s iconic wildlife. The area, covering more than 47,000 sq. kilometers, is home to more than a third of Kenya’s elephant population and 18 percent of its black rhinos. Comprising three national parks and reserves, as well as community conservancies and ranches, Tsavo is the biggest contiguous wildlife area in Kenya.