But saving the elephants is only part of a much larger picture that impacts the environment and the people who live there. The fact that the Samburu went from once fearing elephants and are now the animals' greatest protectors shows how a community—with little power and money—can change the destiny of their own future.
Vitale adds that "It makes me realize the power of individuals to create positive change."
At the same time, the Sanctuary has had a "ripple effect." Reteti is the first sanctuary to hire indigenous women to care for the elephants and, in fact, the head keeper is a Samburu woman.
Vitale recalls that on her last trip to Kenya, a group of Samburu warriors hiked 12 miles in blistering heat to visit the Sanctuary. When asked why they said that they heard stories that women were working with elephants and they had to see this with their own eyes. "They couldn't believe it," Vitale says.
What’s happening without any fanfare is incredible and it’s changing the way the community relates not just to wildlife, but also to each other.