24/7 WILD: A Sanctuary for Elephants

Written by Jasper Montana, Researcher – Samburu, Kenya

Samburu, where we are filming for Planet Earth Live, is a haven for elephants. A silt-filled river runs west-east through the red sand and scrubby landscape, acting as the lifeblood that draws the elephants into the reserve to cool off in the heat of the day. At the moment in Samburu, it is a time of plenty. It is the rainy season and afternoon storms fuel sprouting grass and budding acacias – food fit for an elephant king.

We are working with a group called Save the Elephants, who have been researching the elephants in Samburu for 19 years. On our first day we set off with their head researcher, David Daballen, along one of the dusty tracks that weaves through the ‘toothbrush’ bushes along the river. We were going in search of our first close encounter with a herd of elephants. My previous experience of elephants is relatively limited, but I did know that shaking heads, thrashing vegetation and loud trumpeting calls were a warning sign that they weren’t happy, and it was time to move away.

We’d seen herds from the car on the way in but they were far off in the distance, so this was to be our first meeting with the Samburu elephants and I was excited to get close to them. We spotted a group in some thick bushes not too far away and drove the car off-road towards them. As we pulled up where we thought they were, we paused for a moment and heard nothing. Then all of a sudden, one of the elephants came crashing through the bushes towards us, shaking her head and calling out loudly. Another one crashed through another bush and soon we were amongst a herd of ten or more elephants trumpeting and crashing about in the bushes. Mothers, calves and young males jousting each other with their developing tusks, the thrashing bushes, the trumpeting calls and the shaking heads were all the signs that I’d previously been told to watch out for, but these elephants didn’t seem angry at all.

I asked David what was going on. ‘They’re happy,’ he replied. ‘They have everything they need – food, water and company’. And so they did. The trees were sprouting, the river was flowing and their family were all around them. This, so I have learnt, is why they love Samburu.

With more than 150 wildlife experts and filmmakers strategically positioned around the globe, 24/7 Wild will showcase real animals and their everyday fight for survival — as it happens, in real time. Tune in to 24/7 Wild: Going to Extremes: Monday, May 21, at 8 p.m. et/pt followed by 24/7 Wild: Make or Break at 9p.m. et/pt.


  1. Sandra Chermak
    Minnetonka MN
    May 21, 2012, 10:32 pm

    I am disapointed with 24/7. I really expected more footage on the animals but it seems to be more live narative then actual footage on the animals. They also constantly repeat information and jump back & forth. Too bad it would have been great if they really followed the animals more. It’s not really what was expected from how it was advertised.

  2. Brenda
    Kenosha, WI
    May 27, 2012, 5:49 pm

    This series SUUUUUCCKKKSSSS!!!!!!! I have tried at least six times to watch this show on three different nights….this format stinks!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Apparently your hosts want most of the air time with the camera on THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot, I REFUSE to believe that this series generates a lot of viewers. The total air time of my viewership is under two minutes because your hosts are irritating!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. John
    May 27, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Total watching time is under 2 minutes? Then how could you possibly know what each episode was like, how much airtime the hosts got and whether or not the shows actually SUUUUUCCKKK? Just a silly question for a silly comment.

  4. Mary
    Scituate, MA
    May 28, 2012, 8:47 am

    I was watching the series yesterday, but missed the final story on the baby Pink Boots or Feet whose mother had been shot. Anyone know what happened? The next baby was Maia, but they never mentioned Pink Boots in the wrap up!

  5. Victoria
    May 29, 2012, 4:04 am

    I have to agree that the people took up way too much of the time on these shows. I watched them all in a row on Sunday, and by the third one, I was so sick of the two of them that I could have screamed. The only thing that kept me watching was wanting to see what happened to the animals.

    I am surprised by this, because if there is one thing that National Geographic knows how to do, it is to make animal shows. I was also disappointed that the hosts were not Americans. I think of National Geographic as an American institution, and I want American narrator/hosts. Maybe next time you could hire Sal Vecchio–his narration rocks!

  6. Carrie Broggie
    Ventura, CA
    June 6, 2012, 10:36 pm

    I have to disagree with all the previous posts; my husband and I loved this show. But what happened to it?? I’ve told people about it and no one can find it. Was it just a trial run?

    We need the narrative from the hosts to give us an update and background on what is happening with the animals. They seem informed and totally engrossed with their jobs. Congrats to Nat Geo! This family is learning a lot!