Situated in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu National Reserve is a game-rich reserve once made famous by Elsa the Lioness.
The Samburu National Reserve forms a part of a far larger wildlife conservation area which includes the Buffalo Springs National Reserve to the south, and the Shaba National Reserve to the east between which the resident wildlife freely roams. The park covers an area of about 102 miles. The Ewaso Nyiro River is a big draw for the animals. It flows from the Kenyan highlands and empties into the Lorian Swamp. The park includes a mixture habitats from acacia, to riverine forest, to thorn trees, as well as grassland. The Koitogor and Ololokwe mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to the plains. The park neighbors the homes of the Samburu tribe of Kenya, who are known for their remote culture and nomadic way of life. Because it was inaccessible for a long time, the reserve still retains an air of serenity.
The reserve boasts a diverse array of wildlife due to the lush vegetation and water available from the Ewaso Nyiro River. The reserve even features some rare northern species known as the Samburu Special Five: Grevy zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, and the beisa oryx. A popular elephant destination, there are at least 900 living here. Large predators such as the lion, leopard and cheetah are never far behind the grazing herbivores. Wild dogs are a common sight here too. An abundance of bird life can be found in the reserve with over 450 species including lesser kestrel, taita falcon, African darter, great egret, white-headed vulture, martial eagle, and the yellow-billed ox-pecker. Plus, it is home to the critically endangered pancake tortoise. However, the reserve is most famous for being one of the two areas in which conservationists, George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness. Their story was documented in the bestselling book and award-winning movie “Born Free”.