Collaring a giant elephant

Earlier this month, Save the Elephants fitted a satellite tracking collar on one of my favourite bulls – a giant of an elephant called Miguna Miguna. I have photographed many elephant collarings during my time in Kenya but this one was particularly special.

Miguna is an interesting elephant. A dominant 38 year old bull, he visits Samburu National Reserve in Northern Kenya about once every 2-3 years to look for females. He’s one of only a few large bulls left as most were killed for their ivory. ⁣

Collaring a giant of Miguna’s size is not an easy feat and can be risky. It took almost half an hour and three grown men to get the 4m collar around Miguna’s thick neck.

I often find it hard to just stand there and take photos when everyone else is working so hard. So, once I’d got what I needed, I put my cameras down and mucked in – pouring water over Miguna’s thick skin to keep him cool. I can’t tell you how exhilarating and awe-inspiring it was to be standing next to such a beautiful colossal beast like Miguna. His sweet musth smell almost overpowering as it oozed from the temporal glands on either side of his head. Loud snoring sounds emitting from his twitching trunk.

Lots of mud, sweat and blistered hands later, Miguna was awake, back on his feet and fitted with a brand new tracking collar. ⁣ He didn’t seem too bothered by the collar, touching it several times with his trunk before staring at us as though to say ‘did you put this thing on me?” and wandering off towards the hills.

Save the Elephants will follow this bull’s movements across the Northern Kenya landscape and studying his behaviour. The data will help the organisation better understand how to protect elephants like Miguna from poachers and human elephant conflict, and to keep the landscape connected. ⁣

I can’t wait to see where Miguna goes next. . .

Miguna before he was collared.
The team straining to get the collar around Miguna’s enormous neck
A few blistered hands later and the job is done!
Miguna with his new satellite tracking collar

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