AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police officer who typically pulls over speeders on local highways is leaving Thursday on a unique mission.
Officer Chantal Locke’s passion for elephants is taking her across the world to bring awareness to the crisis in Africa.
Rangers at the Tsavo National Park in Kenya are hot on the trail of an elephant poacher — encounters that often end in death for either side.
The nonprofit “Walk with Rangers” allows everyday people to spend 10 days in their shoes, giving a better idea of what it takes to keep these magnificent creatures alive.
“They’re going up against people who don’t mind risking death for greed,” Locke said. “Someone compared it to a 10-day ride along with one of us on the street and that’s exactly what it is.”
Locke, who is part of APD’s motorcycle patrol team, is up for the challenge.
“When I was a child my mom had a love for elephants. In fact, she would buy me elephants and always make them face toward the front door for good luck and prosperity.”
As time went on, she learned more about their struggles to survive. “[They’re] killed about every 15 seconds, speared, AK’d, given poisonous fruits.”
Locke started doing what she could from home, running in the “Saving the Elephants 10K” in New York City and sending regular donations to foster three orphan elephants, who she’s about to meet in person.
‘I’m way pumped and just realized that that’s Sunday, that’s only a couple days from now, so yeah I’m about to jump out of my skin from excitement.”
Yes, this is her vacation, but Locke is embarking on the unknown. She will be walking about 15 miles each day during the 10-day trek.
The temperatures are surprisingly cooler there right now, in the 60s and 70s. We’ll be following her journey and let you know how it all turns out.
If you’d like to learn more, visit TsavoConservancy.com.