The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Fostering Map click
Click on a pin to learn more about the place a particular orphan was
found and the plight of elephants in that area.
Makatau, Tsavo West National Park
The Tsavo National Park area, encompassing an area of 8,000 square miles (the size of Michigan State or the country Wales) is the main stronghold for Kenya's elephant population which in Tsavo now numbers over 11,000 - the largest single population left in the entire country. Although wild animals are distributed throughout other parts of the country, the Tsavo National Parks are the only large area where they are accorded protection and with its varied topography and differing habitats; it harbours a greater biodiversity of wildlife than any other Park in the world, since it is here that the Northern and Southern races of fauna just happen to occur.
The Park is divided into east and west sections by the Nairobi - Mombasa highway and the railway line. Named after the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, the Park borders the Chyulu Hills National Park, and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania. It was our very own David Sheldrick who formed Tsavo East National Park, mapping it out on foot, and who was the first warden.
Tsavo West National Park is scenically stunning, dominated by the undulating Chyulu Hills of recent volcanic origin, recent lava flows from new recently more active cones such as Shaitani, ancient basement outcropping hills with endemic plants, beautiful crystal clear springs fed by the emerging Mist Forest of the Chyulu range, and all dominated by towering Mt. Kilimanjaro on the Tanzanian side of the Kenya Tanzania border.
Tsavo West National Park covers 7065 square kilometers, and the varied terrain ranges in altitude from 200 – 1000 metres. Both Tsavo East and West are important Elephant Areas which combined harbour the country’s greatest single population of elephants, currently standing at around l0,000. Unfortunately, Tsavo is surrounded by tribes that are anything but ele-friendly including a branch of the Masai tribe on the Southern border of Tsavo West near the Ziwani Sisal Estate. Here, Masai tribesmen have illegally intruded into the Park to graze their livestock, and although illegal, the Government has found it politically sensitive to drive the livestock out and risk the ire of the Masai and other pastorally based tribes. Their votes could swing the balance in the forthcoming elections scheduled to be held in 2012. The illegal intrusion of livestock into the Park during last year’s drought cost the Park dearly, when it lost some 800 hippos due to lack of grazing caused by the intrusion of pastoral cattle. Many elephants and other animals also succumbed to hitherto unknown diseases and parasites transmitted by diseased and dying cattle.
At the Southern end of the Park, the sisal of Ziwani Sisal Estate, plus irrigation canals of fresh water in what was at one time a favorite migration route for elephants, have brought a great deal of human/wildlife conflict. Every time the authorities try to drive some of the Masai cattle out of the Park, elephants are brutally speared, maimed and killed in reprisal attacks. Furthermore, Tanzanian Nationals involved in Ivory Smuggling often trespass into Tsavo West National Park where they can kill elephants and rapidly escape with the ivory across the International Border separating the two countries. Other tribes such as the Wateita and WaTaveta are heavily involved in the Bushmeat trade, which is now commercial, and are responsible for taking an enormous toll of the meat species.