We know our Elephant Keepers have much respect globally for the extraordinary work they do. They are however the lucky ones, privileged to have the opportunity to earn the unwavering love and confidence of a species so special as the African Elephant – To be able to nurture a vulnerable orphaned baby back to both health and happiness has rich rewards, and the intimate bond that is a result of such love and care is worth all the sacrifices. It starts as a job, but becomes a ‘calling’ as the elephants weave their magic and bring out the very best in each individual – so we are proud to introduce you to the men that live 24 hours a day with our orphaned elephants. Over the next months we will be highlighting profiles of the men that share their lives with the elephants.
Our Orphans’ Project gets much attention, however there are the not so glamorous jobs, and the more dangerous jobs, where men risk their lives to save wildlife – those are our desnaring team members – we will be profiling some of the men that are involved in our anti poaching programs, as raising orphaned elephants without considering the ‘Big Picture’ would be pointless. In today’s Africa poaching is a very real threat. and with the rising price of ivory, becoming ever more so. We now run eight full time anti poaching teams in the Tsavo Conservation Area who help support KWS in their fight against poaching.
We have dedicated employees that work hard to save habitats including Kibwezi Forest and Amu ranch, coordinating the management and protection of these areas, and handling the sensitive political seesaw that inevitably crops up with conservation projects in Kenya today – we will be bringing some of these men to your attention as well.
Then of course there are those unsung heroes who work so hard behind the scenes to ensure that our field operations run smoothly, and we feel sure that many people around the world will be interested in their stories too. These include our team of mechanics that ensure the Trust’s many vehicles remain operational, accountants, masons, carpenters, and some of the men that run our Eco properties. All vital to the whole, and we are proud of the fine men and women who dedicate their lives and work so hard for the environment and the wildlife of Kenya. Their stories will unfold throughout the year.
ADANO KOMBA JOB TITLE: ELEPHANT KEEPER
Now 31 years old Adano has been working with the Trust since January 2009. He is from the Gabra tribe, which numbers approximately 70,000. This tribe originated from Ethiopia, migrating south to Kenya around 200 years ago. They are a mix of Muslim and Christians and Adano is a Muslim from the Odhola clan. He is now married with two children; a boy and a girl.
Born in Marsabit, Adano grew up within a small sub location called Bubisa, where he later went to school. Although as a child he wanted to become a businessman, Adano followed his pastoral traditions and became a herdsman, making his living by trading in livestock including camels, sheep and goats. Adano’s homeland boasts healthy wildlife and unlike many Kenyans, Adano had been used to seeing a lot of elephants, although always from a safe distance. Before becoming an elephant Keeper he had only been to Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, very briefly to trade his livestock, which was a tough journey that took many days.
Since becoming an elephant keeper Adano has been amazed by the intelligence of elephants, as just like humans they respond to love and tenderness, which he never believed an elephant could be capable of until knowing them intimately. Although the Keepers must not bond to a specific orphan, ‘Mutara’ is Adano’s favourite at the Nairobi orphanage because of her maternal nature and endless care and love of the younger orphans.
Adano loves his job and takes many pictures with his mobile phone to show his family back home, who love hearing his stories when he returns on his off days and leave. He is proud of being an elephant Keeper and feels great fulfilment in being able to rescue and save elephants, yet he fears for the elephant’s future. He has been on many elephant rescues, but none as challenging as the rescue of Ishaq-B; but if he could change one thing for the wildlife in Kenya he would stop the ivory trade and illegal poaching.
Described by his Keeper friends as hardworking, Adano wants to be remembered as a caring person and if he had a chance to have dinner with three famous people he would invite Queen Elizabeth, Obama and Dame Daphne Sheldrick.