OSB archive
OSB archive

Elephant research centre destroyed

Pete Wilton

Bad news from Kenya: severe flooding has destroyed a major elephant research facility which is home to Oxford University scientists.

Fortunately no one has been reported hurt, but the unexpected flooding of the Ewaso Ng’iro River has completely destroyed the Save the Elephants [STE] research facility and Elephant Watch Safari Camp located in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya.

Vital research data and equipment has been lost and people have had to be evacuated.

Lucy King, an Oxford University DPhil student who works at the facility and has done recent research on beehive fences and elephants and bees, reported that at 5am yesterday 'a wall of water akin to a Tsunami' decimated first the Safari Camp and then, two hours later, the Save the Elephants research facility.

Researchers and staff managed to drive to safety within seconds of the flood waters surging through the facility.

Lucy told me yesterday: 'We are all devastated to have lost our research camp that had only just been renovated. Our staff are still stuck there and sifting through the mud trying to salvage what they can, more rain is coming tonight, it's a real catastrophe.'

Key research data, computers, equipment, kitchen facilities and food, lodging and personal effects have been washed away.

The immediate relief process has already begun, with blankets and water flown in by STE founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton, as well as the assistance of the British Army, which is attempting to airlift people to safety and bring additional supplies.

Although it is too early to assess the cost of the damage Lucy, who is Operations Manager at the facility, says it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild.

Read updates and find out how you can help at the STE website.

Lucy King is a DPhil student at Oxford University's Department of Zoology.