2014 and our appeal is now 2 years old but continues: The poaching crisis has taken a hold, we fear that there are no lactacting cows or large bull elephants left at Mareja or even in the surrounding National Park. We hope this year for radical action by governments, police and consumers - to change this tide before the elephant becomes critically endangered or even extinct. It is believed at this rate of persecution the African elephant will be EXTINCT in the wild within 10 years. A HUGE thank you to our supporters old and new.

Our elephants

Mareja is a birthing ground for elephants and has a small resident population of about 50 but since the threat of poaching, many more elephants seem to be looking for shelter and sanctuary here. The reserve provides the forest cover, food, water and safety they need. Elephant herds are matriarchs, with the dominant female passing on her knowledge of the area to the rest of her clan. When a cow elephant calves all other related females come together to form a physical 'protection ring' against predators such as lion.

Usually at Mareja we see signs of small groups of 3 elephants and very occasionally larger groups of 8 but rarely more...

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We have a new camera trap (kindly provided by Peter Coals from Oxford University) which Dominik has experimented with and he captured these fantastic shots last week at a water hole near the house...

 

A dominant female checking that all is safe.

Once safe her herd follows - at least 20! I thought they looked relaxed but if you look more closely their ear movement indicates agitation and they are disorganised and obviously thirsty. A wonderful large matriarch group with a number of young, though sadly there are no larger beasts here, with very big tusks, a sure sign that all the older animals have been killed (both males and females have tusks). This group has probably come from far looking for a safe place to drink.

These magnificent and social animals are highly intelligent and much has been written about their sense of family loyalty and how they grieve loss. They will make detours to pass sites where relatives have died and stop in their tracks, as if reflecting. They will examine old bones, touching them with their sensitive feet and are thought to recognize relatives by their ivory. Ivory is distinct and reveals a story about each elephant's life, through its wear and tear – as we are right or left handed elephants are right or left tusked. So one side wears very differently to the other. Here is a glimpse of elephant life and behaviour.