email a friend iconprinter friendly iconSaving Kenya's Elephants
Page [ 12 ] of 12
« Prev | 

A couple of weeks after the trek, Wall and Williamson and Daballen, along with a videographer and Web designer named Moritz Zimmermann, and two rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service, home in on the last remaining functional part of Shadrack’s busted tracking collar, its radio transmitter. With the assistance of a small plane overhead, they track him down on the slopes of Mount Marsabit.

Zimmermann later sends me a video of what happens next: One of the rangers shoots a dart containing 16 milligrams of etorphine into Shadrack’s side. Twenty minutes later, Shadrack falls, knocking down a small tree in the process. The group gets to work, fixing a six-foot-long strap of cow leather around Shadrack’s neck, a collar prefitted with a lunch-box-size payload full of digital equipment. Shadrack is oblivious, lying on his left side, his right eye wide open, his womanly lashes an unruly jumble. Black flies crawl across a huge golden iris. The humans take measurements: Shadrack stands almost 12 feet, foot to shoulder, his tusks measure 4.6 feet on the outside of their crescent curve, 3.1 feet on the inside. (Were these men poachers, they could sell those tusks for about $10,000 each.) Wall plucks three tail hairs, which will later be analyzed to gauge Shadrack’s diet. Then the ranger plunges two hypodermics into the elephant’s flank. Through the first he draws a hefty sample of blood, through the second he injects a healthy dose of stimulants.

"He will wake in two minutes," the ranger says, and he’s right. Two minutes later, from a safe distance, Zimmerman films Shadrack rising to his feet and ambling slowly off into the dense forest.

That may be the last anyone ever sees of him: Less than two months after Shadrack receives the new collar, it too goes dead, just like the first one did.

Shadrack drops off the map, and walks on without us.

Page [ 12 ] of 12
« Prev | 
Join the discussion

National Geographic Adventure is pleased to provide this opportunity for you to share your comments about this article. Thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Recent Comments
  • Brilliant photographs especially the night time ones. It is inspiring in a very astounding way.
  • Great article, wonderful photos. I wish I could take part in something like this someday. They are…
  • Amazing, inspiring.
Read All »