How ‘Ahmed the Elephant’ Was Saved by Students' Letter Writing Campaign to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

  • Iconic Kenyan Elephant ‘Ahmed’, who featured in several award-winning movies in the 70’s, was granted protection by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta through a push by students who wrote numerous letters to the then president.

    Ahmed, whose tusks were presumed to be the longest and heaviest in Africa, inhabited the forests of Marsabit National Reserve, on a mountain rising out of the scrublands of Northern Kenya. 

    The movies Ahmed starred in include: “The Search for Ahmed” an ABC production done in 1969 that featured John Huston, an NBC film with George Plimpton followed, and a French documentary highlighting the work of Iain Douglas Hamilton.

    Having featured the aforementioned movies, Ahmed had earned himself a celebrity status. The attention that came with newly-found status led to a 1970 letter-writing campaign by schoolchildren to Kenya's first president, asking him to protect Ahmed in the wake of increased cases of poaching.

    Consistency and commitment among the letter-writing students eventually stirred the president’s interest.

    The president declared ‘Ahmed’ a living monument and provided him with presidential protection: five armed game rangers whose job was to ensure security surveillance around the clock.

    This security that was assigned to Ahmed is probably the only reason he was able to live to 65 before he died of natural causes.

    An autopsy conducted on Ahmed’s body revealed antique bullets that were lodged in different parts of his body.

    This served to show that Ahmed had always been at risk of being poached since his birth.

    The 1919 born beast’s tusks measured in at nearly 68 kilograms each.

    In death, Ahmed makes another statistic of the harmful effects of poaching.

    Since then, Satao, an elephant that boasted of tusks as large as Ahmed’s was killed in 2014 by poachers in Tsavo National Park.