The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary for orphaned elephants is run by the Samburu community operating as the Namunyak Conservancy and was opened in 2016. The facility rescues young elephants, orphaned due to abandonment, drought, poaching, separation or falling into wells from which they cannot escape. The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is situated in the remote Mathews Range, among Kenya’s second largest elephant population.
It takes in orphaned and abandoned elephant calves with an aim to release them back into the wild herds adjoining the Sanctuary. Once a young elephant has been reported as alone, the initial aim is to observe it over a period of 48 hours and attempt to reunite it with its mother and herd. If this does not occur naturally, Reteti steps in and brings the elephant to their sanctuary. Once here, the keepers provide 24-hour care until the elephant is fit to be released back into the wild – a process which takes several years to achieve depending on the age of the orphan when first rescued.
Reteti is the first community-owned and community-run elephant sanctuary in Kenya – a feat the Samburu people have achieved solely through their own initiative and drive.
Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is an excellent example of community-based conservation and is a cause well worth supporting. It offers visitors a very different experience to other orphan sanctuaries: intimate, quiet and emotive, with a fascinating insight into the relationships between orphans and those who care for them.
Reteti is most easily visited from Sarara Camp, about 20 minutes drive away. It can also be visited from Saruni Rhino or Saruni Samburu camps though the transfer time can be up to a couple of hours. Visiting hours are 08:30-10:00 and 11:30-13:00. It is possible to land a private charter flight at the sanctuary’s own airstrip nearby, but most guests arrive for the late morning session due to Reteti’s remote location.