Disheartening news as iconic bull elephant meets untimely death at an abandoned septic tank in Samburu

Tuesday 14 October 2019: It is with a heavy heart that we learnt about the death of Teresai, a spectacular and famous bull elephant in Samburu.  Teresai, aged 41 was found dead on September 18 after falling into an abandoned septic tank at the ruins of the former Serena Safari Lodge located on the edge of Buffalo Springs National Reserve.

According to Serena Hotels, the damaged property was handed over to the County Council many years ago. They claim no responsibility towards any injuries or deaths in the collapsing structures.  It is a dangerous ruin that poses threats to both humans and wildlife. According to the County Government, no action has yet been taken on the ground. “I have spoken to both the Serena Hotels and the County Government and I’m very disappointed that neither entity is willing to take responsibility for the death of Teresai, nor for the demolition of the dangerous ruins of the former hotel. If the numerous septic tanks at this facility are left open more fatal incidents will occur. Let us not wait for the death of children who are often found playing in the ruins to spur action. We are calling on the relevant Government authorities to urgently investigate the situation and hold the responsible party or parties to account “, said Dr. Kahumbu.

The death of this iconic bull elephant brings to the fore the dangers that abandoned developments pose to both humans and animals and begs the question about who should be held liable in the event that these tragedies happen.

It is believed that Teresai fell into Serena’s septic tank in the dead of night about a week before his body was found. His death was likely slow and agonizing, after breaking one or both his legs in the fall. “Teresai was one of the finest bull elephants in Northern Kenya. He was born in the early 1970s in the midst of the ivory poaching crisis that saw Africa’s elephant population halved, survived the resurgent ivory poaching that hit Kenya between 2009 and 2013 only to die in this circumstance. It’s a great shame on all of us, and northern Kenya is not alone. Ruined lodges scar the landscape of parks and reserves across the country, endangering people and wildlife. Something must be done”, said Frank Pope, CEO for Save the Elephants.

It has been 3 weeks since Tersai was found dead and no action has been taken despite the area having numerous uncovered pits, and broken glass, splintered timber and nails. We call on the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), The Ministry of Public Safety, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to demand action is taken with no further delay as this site is not just an eyesore but a danger to both human beings and wildlife alike.

We also call on KWS and the relevant authorities to demolish and restore the grounds of all other hotels that have fallen into disrepair causing dangers to people and animals, degradation of the environment, and creating an eyesore that is compromising the aesthetic beauty of our parks. One such hotel is the Amboseli Lodge in the Amboseli National Park which has been collapsing with no effort to act on this disaster in the last 15 years. Today the dangerous items like planks of wood with protruding nails which are the remains of this hotel can be found scattered within a few km radius of the hotel. These will cause serious injuries to wildlife.


For more information, please contact:

Trish Sewe – WildlifeDirect

+254 (0) 705 515 709

Jane Wynyard – Save the Elephant

+254 (0) 708 669 635

About WildlifeDirect (

WildlifeDirect is a conservation organization with a mission to connect Kenyans to their wildlife and nature and inspire them to treasure it and act to conserve it.

About Save the Elephants (

Save the Elephants is a research & conservation organization based in Nairobi with a research camp in Samburu National Reserve.