First Elephant Spotted in Somalia in 20 Years

Photo Credit: Save the Elephants

It’s never too late to come home again. Morgan, a large bull elephant, made a giant step for his kind yesterday by crossing over the Kenyan border into Somalia. This marks the first time an elephant has been seen in Somalia in twenty years.

Morgan was originally equipped with a tracking collar last December by conservationists in Kenya, near the coastal Tana River Delta, but he began his solitary march in February of this year. It took him three weeks to reach the border, demonstrating clever, adaptable behavior that has so long fascinated Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants.

During the day, Morgan would lie low, hiding in the brush and keeping cool. It was after sundown that he began covering real distance, strolling twelve miles  on his very first night. He maintained this regimen throughout his entire journey, showing the smart, strategic thinking that makes elephants so remarkable.

“He’s adopted this extreme form of survival strategy to traverse one of the most dangerous places for elephants in their African range,” said Douglas-Hamilton.

Morgan’s trek is momentous for a few reasons. It’s evidence that the border between Kenya and Somalia, a traditionally dangerous area, may be becoming less so; the return of security would subsequently mean the return of elephants. It also shows the old adage ‘an elephant never forgets’ may very well be true, as Morgan’s path followed ancestral routes that because of war haven’t been used by elephants for decades.

Though Morgan’s goal isn’t clear, “he obviously had something in his mind about where he’s going,” Douglas-Hamilton said.

The vacation in Somalia was all too brief—after less than twenty-four hours, Morgan turned back and crossed the border to Kenya once again. His trip across countries is a good sign, it shows there’s hope for elephants to return to their former range. We wish Morgan all the luck in his future journeys!

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