Interviewer: Tom Campbell at home
Tom's childhood stories
Tom at Monterey/Oakland Zoo - describing his childhood memories
B-roll: Decor with elephants
Tom's childhood stories
Tom interacting with elephants
Timeframe: 4-6 minutes
Revisions Edit due: TBD
Final Edit due: TBD - 2017
look & Feel
Casual / Documentary
*Who is Tom and where did this passion for elephants stem from? (Childhood memories)
*Tom's dream of putting purpose of profit (Elephants and Bees, Save the Elephants, Kenya)
*The problem - Hunting and Ivory trade
*Highlight the purpose and call to action. (Leaving the world better than you found it)
Pre-Interview with Tom
1.) Why does this documentary project mean so much to you?
2.) If the viewers can walk away with one message that they will remember for the rest of their lives, what would that be?
3.) Do you have physical photos of the childhood memories at Disneyland, A's games, animal crackers, stuffed elephant from Santa or zoo pictures?
4.) Has anyone ever mentioned that this passion that you have for Elephants was weird or strange?
1.) When can you remember first having this love for elephants? (Oakland A’s, Animal kingdom, animal cookies, figurines around home, Xmas ornaments, elephant costume)
2.) Can you tell us the story of how you dreamed of raising an elephant in your backyard?
3.) Can you tell us about Butch the elephant and how you two met?
4.) How did you come to the decision to start making a difference in these elephants lives? And can you give us some examples of where you donate your time and resources to do this?
5.) Can you tell us about the organization called Elephants and Bees and Save the Elephants? How did you discover them and why do these organizations mean so much to you?
6.) How did you learn about the illegal Ivory trade and how are you helping to combat this trade?
7.) What are your thoughts on hunting as a sport?
8.) How did you stumble across the Orphans Project and can you tell us how this relates to your dream of having elephants in your backyard?
9.) Can you tell us why it means so much for you to see the elephants on their terms and not man’s terms?
10.) Why do you think it’s important for people to know the difference between seeing them on their terms compared to our terms?
11.) You mentioned that it is best to leave eh world better than how you found it. How do you plan on doing this?
12.) How have the elephants helped you to make the world a better place?
13.) Can you explain how your dream of having elephants in your backyard have evolved throughout the years?
14.) “An elephant never forgets.” If there was one thing that you wanted the elephants to remember about you during you, what would that be?
15.) What is something that you will never forget about them?
Tom's Journal entries
ELEPHANT TRIP JOURNAL (July, 2016): by Tom Campbell
I have loved animals since I can remember, particularly elephants. I loved to go see elephants at the zoo; at circuses (which I’m now against!); and even the robotic ones at Disneyland.
But these interactions were always on Man’s terms. I needed to meet elephants on their terms. And so, I embark on a trip to Kenya in Africa to do just that. I wanted a pet elephant in my own backyard. Instead, I am visiting them in their backyard. This is my story.
On Tuesday, July 13th, I finally arrive in Nairobi at 9:30 PM. The customs line is chaotic, but I find my driver who takes my baggage claim check to retrieve my bag. It takes me nearly 3 hours to get through the customs line and to my car to be driven over to the “Aero Club East Kenya” at Wilson Air Strip, where I will spend the night. Tomorrow, I’m finally off on Safari!
Wednesday, July 14th. I touch actual African soil for the first time! I hear birds sing that I’ve never heard before! I have not seen any animals yet aside from the 3 mosquitos in my room. After a nice English breakfast at the Aero Club restaurant, I am met by my taxi for the short drive over to the airfield to catch my flight to the Samburu region. The flight to Samburu was a memorable start to a memorable day! I board an Air Kenya Twin Otter, a two engine turbo prop that has limited head and leg room. After one quick stop to drop off passengers, we arrive at Samburu airstrip where I am met by two Samburu warriors for the drive into the Samburu National Park. The first animal I see is a giraffe that I spot through the window of the plane on final approach to the runway. Once in the safari truck, Africa comes to life. I see a Secretary Bird, a Grevy’s Zebra, and then not more than 20 minutes from landing, we see elephants! They are off in the distance migrating through the bush. We quickly move toward them to get a view from up close. There are three distinct family groups. We stop in the road ahead of a family group that is moving in our direction. We become part of the landscape and elephants are all around us! One actually comes up to me in the jeep and sniffs my arm with her trunk. I’ve already made contact and I’ve only been here for about half an hour! What an experience! As we continue to track elephants, my guides spot some fresh lion tracks, so we decide to search for them. We are quickly rewarded as we spot a lioness laying at the bank of the Ewaso River, surveying the herd of Impala on the other side and wondering if there is a stealthy way to grab lunch.
After the sensory overdose that is my first couple of hours in this magical place, we head out to the Elephant Watch Camp that will be my home over the next few days. The Elephant Watch Camp lies on the banks of the Ewaso River. It is a series of huts encompassing a very comfortable safari tent complete with queen sized bed and other functional furniture. The bathroom is adjacent to the tent, and is essentially open air, but with a great amount of privacy. The shower consists of two buckets. This could be a problem!
I check in at the main lobby, which is an open air hut with several comfortable chairs and some tables. There is a well-stocked bar, a small office, and rows of items for sale, handmade by the Samburu. I sign my life away on a release form without hesitation and hand the form back to Hilary, who is managing the Camp during my visit. I immediately ask Hilary, “OK, now that I’ve signed, what can kill me out here? And not just the big stuff, I’m more concerned about the small stuff like poisonous spiders, scorpions, etc. I am told that I shouldn’t go out at night alone in case I come across an elephant, lion, leopard or hyena. I am told to wait for an escort from an Iskari (an armed Samburu warrior) for my own safety. I am told to stay away from the river bank as the crocodiles can reach lengths of 20 feet! In addition, I am told to stay out of the bushes due to scorpions, and the 4 poisonous snakes in the area; Boomslang, Puff Adder, Spitting Cobra, and Black Mamba. This is getting serious!
On my second day in Samburu, I discover that my very high end camera has shut itself off and is now dead. Unfortunately, there are no shops in the area to take it in for repair. Fortunately, I have planned ahead and brought two GoPro cameras with me as well. I will capture what I can with these or my cellphone.
The Samburu tribesman and warriors that act as our guides and protectors are a fascinating people. They and the Masai are close “cousins” and have been a part of the Kenyan landscape for generations. I have beenasking my guide, Bernard, a lot of questions. The Samburu are nomads. They do not hunt to kill specific species. Elephants, Lions, Leopards and other animals are taboo. They raise their own cattle for food. One clan of the Samburu tribe sees the elephants as their “brothers.” When they come across an elephant skull, tradition states that they are to put something green on the skull to honor their brother. Samburu herders will also track the elephants in dry areas, waiting for them to find and dig where there is water, as the elephants have a keen sense in finding sources of water during the dry seasons. Once the elephants have had their fill, the Samburu will then dig a well at the site to water their livestock. They have a symbiotic relationship with the elephant herds.
Another resource that the elephants provide to the Samburu and to the greater eco-system is dung. Elephant dung is an eco-system in itself supporting the very basic elements of the African food chain. Elephant dung is also used as a source of fuel. When dried, it provides an excellent form of kindling for fires.
JULY 15th, 2016
Today is pay day, but who cares! I head out with my guides, Simeon and Rosie on a morning safari and a picnic lunch by the Ewaso River. I am hoping to see a leopard today. I witnessed two lionesses hunting waterbuck, but they are unsuccessful. As they rested under a bush, two families of elephants came across them and chased them off. It was quite a spectacle as I basically lived through what I have previously seen only on animal shows on TV.
I also got to do something else today that I have always wanted to do. When my kids, Grant and Ashley were younger, I would read books to them and many of these books had animals in them. I would ask the kids what sound each animal made and they would either bark, meow, moo, roar, etc. depending on the animal in question. When it came to elephants, they weren’t sure what to do, so I raised my arm in the air, pursed my lips, and blew as hard as I could to make the best elephant trumpet blast that I could. Well, today, I needed to test my skills in the field. As we were sitting and watching a group of elephants feed with their backs toward us, I decided it was time to “interact” with them. I raised my arm up in the air, pursed my lips, and blew as hard as I could, just like I did when reading the books to my kids many years ago. I must have communicated something, because this group of elephants quickly turned toward us in a defensive posture, forming a tight group around the younger animals in the herd. What had I communicated to them? Was it just some unknown message? Did I actually sound an alarm? Did I offend them? My Samuru guides were quite entertained, but asked me not to do it again!
I wish my kids were here to see this! I must bring them back!
JULY 16th, 2016
At least one bull elephant came into camp last night around 2:30 AM – 3:00 AM and parked himself right outside of my tent to feed on the surrounding Acacias and other plants outside. He made quite a ruckus ringing the bucket shower like a bell and pulling off tree branches and munching on them. It was initially alarming, but became yet another lifetime experience. I tried to see him in action, but didn’t want to startle him with any lights, sudden movement, or the beam of a flashlight, so I just laid in bed and listened.
In the morning, there was clear evidence of my visitor’s presence with vast open spaces where there used to be foliage; Acacia pods scattered about; tracks and evidence of scratches in the dirt; and of course, piles of dung for good measure.
The plan for today is another game drive, this time with a picnic lunch, followed by what is known as a “sundowner” hike and a ceremonial dance with our Samburu friends. I hope to see a leopard and a cheetah today!
Success! I saw not one, but three cheetahs today, but the leopard continues to be quite elusive. There are many leopards in the region, but they are difficult to locate. In addition to the three cheetahs, we had an amazing encounter with a large bull elephant named, “Lemaiyan” which means “blessing” or “blessed” in Swahili. This young bull came right up to me, no more than 4 or 5 feet away. Terrifying and exhilarating at the same time! I believe that God or the universe speaks to us in various ways if we observe life with an open mind and listen or see the messages delivered to us. Why did a large bull elephant name Lemaiyan come up to me today? What was he trying to tell me?
I had fun texting my daughter, Ashley, today at about noon local time, which is about 2 AM her time. She should be asleep! I sent her a live video of an elephant eating. At the risk of sounding redundant, I wish my kids were here to see all this!
The memorable experiences keep coming! We hiked up a dry creek bed and up a hill with a 360 degree view of the Samburu region, the mountain ranges in the distance, and a beautiful equatorial sunset. Our Samburu guides and attendants entertained us with a traditional set of dances and songs as the sun set over the horizon. They invited us to join in and I did my best to keep in time and rhythm, without much success. The party and singing continued on the jeep ride back to camp, in the pitch dark!
I had more visitors again last night this time from two bull elephants. This time they arrived early, making it difficult for me to get back to my tent after dinner. My Iskari (armed guard) was able to direct me back safely. These young bulls are massive animals and they are doing a great job of re-doing the landscaping around the camp.
JULY 17, 2016
The bull elephants came back in again at 1:30 AM! It’s fascinating to hear them eating. I tried to film them, but again didn’t want to shine the light on them and disturb them. I did see one walk past about 10 feet away from me.
The plan for today is an early morning game drive. I am up and out by 6:30 AM to witness the Kenyan sunrise. We are looking for a leopard today. We quickly come across more gerenuk, impala, and elephants, the same young bulls that were hanging out around my tent the past few nights. I ask Simeon to take me to his favorite place in the park. He brought us to a spot near a dry creek bed. He says that right after the rainy season in April and May, and that all types of animals can be seen in this area. We came around a bend and saw many safari trucks gathered in the same spot and pointed in the same direction. I saw three lions in front of the trucks. They need to find a way to give the cats more space. The methods used by some of the safari companies in the region border on harassment. We parked several feet away from this group and shut our engine off so as not to disturb the animals, but to blend into the landscape. One of the lionesses approached us and laid down behind our truck, blocking access from the other vehicles. I took a couple of pictures of her and then just stared at her, in awe of her beauty, power and presence, aware that she could attack (and maybe kill me) at any time…if she wanted to.
We then resumed the leopard hunt, again with no success until getting a call that a pack of African Painted Dogs had narrowed in on a kill. These dogs are nomadic and rare to the area. We sped over to the river and hiked out to an overlook where a female kudu was standing directly in the middle of the river. The dogs had retreated to the trees on one bank waiting for her to make the mistake of leaving the water. Simeon saw one dog, but I got to where he was too late and never did see one. We also met some of the Save The Elephants staff at this location. We later had breakfast them and others at the Save The Elephants research facility nearby. We had a great discussion around their programs and various needs, and shared a lot of ideas around how to execute their programs. I promised them that I would do my best to do my part in fundraising and raising awareness. We will be staying in touch in the future. The leopard remained elusive. (Footnote: The kudu ended up waiting out the dog pack and ran away to safety.)
This is my last night at Elephant Watch Camp. Dinner was great, as always. I will miss this place and I must come back!
JULY 18th, 2016
It’s my last day at the Elephant Watch Camp. This place has changed me and made me a better person. It has touched my heart, mind and soul and renewed my commitment to help the animals, and the people, of this region. I hop in the safari truck for the last time. This time, I get to ride in the front with my new friend, Simeon. We make our way to Samburu Oryx Airfield, passing a “journey” of giraffes. One giraffe is called a “tower” and a group of giraffes is a “journey.” I say good-bye to my new friend and ask him to take care of our elephants. I hop on the single engine SafariLink aircraft and we take off for our return flight to Nairobi by way of Nanyuki. I feel very safe as the founder of SafariLink is on the flight with me.
I have changed my travel plans to stay with Jeremy Wyatt at this home and Bed & Breakfast in Karen named “Hardy House.” Jeremy’s place is incredible. (BTW, I met Jeremy at Elephant Watch Camp. He is a friend of the Save The Elephants people who run the Elephant Watch Camp. Jeremy’s house is on an acre of land with a pool and lush garden. After a nice soup and sandwich lunch, I am picked up for my journey to the animal orphanage at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. We are taken to a back entrance that leads out to the Kenyan Wildlife Park. The elephants at the orphanage are paraded back to their stalls every night. We watch them amble through along with a baby giraffe named, “Kiko,” who nearly kicks three of the human visitors. I am here to see the five orphaned elephants that Ashley, Grant and I foster, but soon find out that two of them are in another David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust location in Tsavo East. The five elephants that we foster are named, “Ambo, Lissa, Mbegu, Tusuja, and Zongoloni. I will only get to see Ambo, Mbegu and Tusuja. I was able to spend some quality time with all three elephants and could have stayed there all night. The elephants’ keepers are nothing short of heroes in my mind. They obviously love these animals. You can see the love and pride in their faces. They are with these animals 24/7 every day and sleep in small bunks in their elephants’ pens.
JULY 19th, 2016
My last day in Kenya. On the schedule today is a trip to the Save The Elephants offices; another visit to the Sheldrick’s orphanage; and then straight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for the first flight on my trip home.
I had a great meeting today with the team at Save The Elephants’ offices in Karen. They have a number of projects they are looking to fund and some very creative campaign plans with some very famous and influential people in politics; fashion; and entertainment. I hope to help them raise awareness and donations via some of my ideas and initiatives. Every little bit helps. My plan is to help by leveraging my business contacts to participate in some events and campaigns to help Save The Elephants fund their Elephant Crisis Fund and to speak with school leaders and my church to see about raising money to sponsor schools in the Samburu region in Kenya.
From Save The Elephants headquarters, I returned for another visit at the Sheldrick’s orphanage to see and say good-bye to Ambo; Mbegu; and Tusuja. I hope to return soon and actually spend time with them in the park, this time with my kids!
After the Sheldricks visit, it was time to head to JKIA for the first leg of my return flight to SFO via Frankfurt. Kenya is a beautiful country with very nice people and spectacular wildlife! I hope to return here soon to visit my new friends; the animals; and especially, the elephants!