In pictures: An elephantine task in Kenya

Safely moving "rogue" elephants who have roamed onto farmland is heavy lifting for the Kenya Wildlife Service.


Nairobi, Kenya - The Ol Pejeta conservancy in central Kenya is home to some 300 elephants at any one time, and is linked to the broader Laikipia and Samburu ecosystem by wildlife corridors. A census by the Kenya Wildlife Service in November 2012 estimated a population of around 6,800 elephants across the three districts.

At the edge of the conservancy, several "rogue" elephants have broken fences and roamed onto farmland, damaging crops. In order to decongest the elephant population here, nine males were moved from Ol Pejeta to the larger Kora National Reserve, protecting the elephants and easing the human-wildlife conflict.

The elephants had been tracked for weeks, and, on June 21, the final two bulls were located by helicopter and subsequently tranquilised with a dart. Officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service raced in, supported by staff from the conservancy, and rapidly loaded the sedated elephants onto a truck. They were then driven to a large container and transported to Kora.

Speed is of the essence when moving elephants. Because elephants are so heavy, spending too much time lying on one side can crush the animal's internal organs. Accordingly, once the elephant was safely in the container used to transport it during the drive to the Kora reserve, it was injected with an antidote to the tranquilliser and rapidly regained consciousness.

Follow photographer Phil Moore on Twitter: @fil