Today, September 1 is the 45th anniversary of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project. Way back in 1972 Harvey Croze and I made a trip to Amboseli to see if it would be a good site for an elephant project. It only took us half a day to say YES this is the place.
On that first day we met several groups of elephants and we started taking identification photos. The elephants were plentiful; they were calm and relaxed around our vehicle; and the open pans and plains in Amboseli made it easy to see and photograph them.
In addition to their accessibility the Amboseli elephants provided a unique opportunity to study a relatively undisturbed population. They were not confined to a small protected area--they were still moving in and out of the central swamps on trails used for hundreds of years; they were not being heavily poached although there was some poaching and there was sport hunting of the big males; and they were fortunate to share their range with the Maasai people who did not kill them for trophies or meat. Here was a population that was responding to environmental pressures more than to man-made pressures. It was the ideal place to get base-line information on the ecology and behavior of elephants.
Forty-five years later much of what we know about elephants comes from studies in Amboseli. Don't we know enough? No, we haven't yet covered the full life span of an elephant, which we have discovered can be more than 70 years. Even now there remain gaps in our knowledge and many questions we haven't yet answered.
Elephants continue to intrigue, confuse and delight us. We owe it to them to continue this study and in doing so we pledge to protect them and assure their future. We are greatly indebted to the friends and supporters who have kept us in the field for so long doing what we feel is so important for all elephants. To help us continue we would appreciate any donations in multiples of 45 in honor of the 45th anniversary.