Elephant in Kenya interrupts reporter Alvin Kaunda in viral video


Alvin Kaunda was in the middle of detailing the effects of human actions on the natural world when the top of a brown trunk popped into view just behind his left ear.

The trunk belonging to one of the young residents of an elephant orphanage in Nairobi where Kaunda had gone to report a story about devastating drought concerning Kenya and its wildlife, gently slung over the journalist’s shoulder before curling up to probe his ear, probing the side of his head. Kaunda, however, did not seem fazed by the unexpected intrusion into his personal space and continued to deliver his report to the camera, finally bursting into laughter when the elephant’s leathery appendage began to suffocate his face.

Clips of the moment began circulating online over the weekend and have since racked up millions of views – catapulting Kaunda and the curious young elephant to viral fame. The brief interaction between reporter and subject delighted viewers and left many in awe of Kaunda’s ability to keep his composure for as long as he did. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trustnon-profit organization that manages the orphanage, identified the elephant as InsideA 4-year-old female that was rescued in April 2018.

“A baby elephant bothering a TV reporter is the best part of today” tweeted one Twitter user shared a video of the exchange, which had been viewed more than 11.8 million times as of Wednesday.

For Kaunda, it all started as just another day at work.

The Kenya Broadcasting Corp reporter. was employed at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage, according to Kenya is battling its worst drought in four decades, and local officials say the weather is extreme killing 20 times more elephants than poaching. A recent report released by the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife revealed this more than a thousand animals died as a result of the drought, including wildebeest, zebra, elephant and buffalo.

A relentless drought is killing hundreds of zebras, elephants and wildebeest in Kenya

Kaunda said to a a local Kenyan radio station that he knew he wanted to set up a shot at the orphanage where he would speak to the elephants. But he was struggling to get through his report and had already attempted 10 takes – all of which were unsuccessful.

“I kept my distance but I was so focused I didn’t even realize they were coming,” he said.

At the start of what would become a viral moment, Kaunda, dressed in a T-shirt and a red and navy blue jacket, can be seen standing among several reddish-brown elephants, clutching a microphone with the KBC logo in his hand. In the background Kindani is with his trunk slung over the back of one of the other elephants.

“I’m coming,” says a faint off-camera voice.

With a quick breath, Kaunda focused his gaze on the camera and began.

“They say that charity begins at home,” Kaunda says with a serious expression, “and for these young orphaned elephants, this charity foundation is what they call home.”

He briefly looks away from the camera when one of the elephants appears to nudge the side of his body with its head, but he doesn’t hesitate. Instead, he places a gentle hand on the elephant’s head and moves on, seemingly determined to make a useful profit.

However, Kindani, now right behind him, seems to have other plans.

“And with increasing incidences of drought, it’s up to us to be custodians of our own natural world,” Kaunda says, ignoring the probing elephant trunk scrutinizing his ear. It moved to the top of his head before moving down to the center of his face, forcing Kaunda to close his eyes as he bravely continued to speak.

But when Kindani’s proboscis begins to feel his nose and mouth, the reporter gives up. Letting out a shrill giggle, he squirms, eliciting off-camera laughter as the female elephant quickly pulls back her trunk.

On social media, the interaction, which lasted less than a minute, soon captivated people around the world.

“Most of us would have lost our professionalism much sooner!” Sheldrick Wildlife Trust tweeted. “An important land-related piece, but our orphans just saw a visitor to investigate!”

Kindani “knows exactly what he plans to do,” the organization added in another tweet, responding to a Twitter user who pointed out the elephant’s eyes just moments before she approached Kaunda. “The side eye is often a precursor to brash behavior.”

Faced with the wayward elephant, many onlookers were impressed by Kaunda’s determination.

“I’m amazed how long this reporter managed to keep his composure,” one person said tweeted. “I would start laughing at the first touch.”

Another Twitter user they applauded the journalist for his “amazing professional control”.

“The reporter stayed the course until it was no longer possible to do so,” the person wrote. “I’m glad he got the last laugh, it did my heart good.”

In an interview with a Kenyan radio station, Kaunda described the trunk as “tickling”, saying: “[I] i just tried to keep my cool.

“There wasn’t really any smell,” he said. “I’m sure if there was a bad smell it would really distract me. It wasn’t normal, but I enjoyed the experience.”

Counter, who calls a “wildlife enthusiast” himself, he said he hopes to experience more of these encounters, adding that he aims to “get up close” to several species of animals. “There are only two left for now; the lion and the leopard.”

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