colin francombe


This week we are happy to be able to share a guest post from Kenya Wildlife Service honorary warden Colin Francombe.

Colin has been living in Northern Kenya for 50 years and is a devoted conservationist. His knowledge of the Samburu and their ecosystem is encyclopaedic and he is highly respected amongst the Samburu as an elder of the Kimaniki age group.

In 1989 Kenya took a stand by burning its ivory stockpiles, worth millions of dollars, in the hope that other countries would follow suit and prevent the African elephant from extinction. This statement strengthened the newly formed CITIES total ban on ivory trade, collapsing the market on ivory and allowing the Elephant to recuperate.

In 1997 the total ban was lifted to allow experimental trade with China and Japan, now blamed for fueling a market that has seen a population of 300,000 African Elephants dwindle to an approximate 20,000, facing local extinctions all over Africa.

Colin was instrumental in the kind of action that these Elephant now desperately need once again if they are to survive, and this week he shares with us his tale of the Ivory Bonfire:



1. two bullets on a poached Elephant’s skin, one unspent round used as an example provided by a KWS ranger for the photo and one recovered from the Elephant in autopsy

This is a personal account of an Elephant that was poached while
I was living with Talis in Waso, and the search for her orphaned calf.

We heard from one of our wildlife monitors that an Elephant had been poached near the Sieku valley. Our monitors are trained to check for breast milk that would indicate that her calf may be too young to survive alone with the herd.

We arrived and were shown the body of the mother. She was lying under a tree next to a gulley and her body had already had signs of hyena trying to feed on her the night before.