Google Street View of Samburu

Samburu National Park
Elephants takes water in the Samburu National Reserve. PHOTO/COURTESY
US Internet giant Google has commenced Street View Imagery of Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve in a bid to raise awareness of elephant conservation.

The project, which is funded by the Samburu County government in partnership with Save the Elephants,  kicked off in February when Google drove a Street View car on one of the park’s main roads.

“We brought the Samburu elephants online so people can “meet” them, experience the beauty of their habitat and realize the need for urgent action to protect them,” Ian Douglas Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants, said in a statement.

The Samburu Street View is among the 17 Google Treks offering interactive views of tourist sites, including the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Galápagos Islands in Ecuador.

As you “pass” an elephant in the Samburu National Reserve, using the white arrows, a data box comes out describing the elephant’s name and family.

The data boxes explain elephant facts — for example, that Save the Elephants names elephant families by a theme, just like the British Royals — which adds immensely to a viewer’s overall experience.

The Samburu Street View has a section detailing the measures that the park takes to protect elephants from poachers, including collaring, monitoring, patrolling, rehabilitating and planning.

Google has been playing a major role in conserving the Samburu elephants. For example, the Lewa radio command centre has been relying on Google Earth since 2007 to track movements of the elephants in order to help rangers determine if the animals are in danger.

Located 350 kilometres from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the Samburu National Reserve is home to a thriving population of wildlife, including elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino among others.

The reserve, which is fed by the Ewaso Ng’iro river, was the area in which environmentalist George Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness who was made famous by the best selling book and award winning movie Born Free.