On August 12th, MCV joined the rest of the globe to mark this year’s World Elephant Day with a united call by conservationists to save the iconic and endangered species. With a theme to “bring the world together to help elephants,” this year’s World Elephant Day proved a monumental one for the Maasai community.
For thousands of years, the Maasai have coexisted in harmony with wildlife. Recently, Big Tim, one of the largest elephants living in Amboseli, passed away less than 1 kilometer from the Maasai Heritage Museum. For over 50 years, Big Tim lived with the Maasai, spending over 80% of his time living in peace on Maasai community-owned land. An Amboseli icon and known for his distinctly uneven tusks, Big Tim drew large numbers of tourists each year eager to photograph him. Throughout his life, Maasai community members and rangers played a key role in conservation efforts protecting Tim, whose mother and relatives died to poachers. In 2020, Tim died of natural causes, making him a symbol of hope for the Maasai and conservationists.
To the Maasai, Big Tim was a family member. His death produced a hole in the heart of both the Amboseli ecosystem and the people who lived with him. On August 12th, at a meeting between government officials, conservation stakeholders, and Maasai community landowners and leaders in conservation efforts, attendees agreed that Big Tim’s remains should return to Amboseli and be housed in the Maasai Heritage Museum.