On my recent trip to Kenya, Isaac, Jono and myself went on an impromptu visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi.
This wonderful Trust was setup in 1977 and has played an important role in conservation efforts in Kenya. It is a sanctuary that helps save the lives of orphaned elephants and rhino’s. I was so excited to be able to see baby elephants and see what the Trust was doing for these orphans.
I couldnt be more pleased that we went. Seeing the orphan elephants and being able to touch them when they came close enough was a very touching and emotional experience. While some of them played around and enticed laughter out of the many visitors, we were all aware that these babies were here due mostly to human presence in the habitat of our wild. After the team members fed the every eager elephants their baby formula in pretty massive milk bottles and were left to play around in the mud and with the soccer balls dotted around, a team member stood in the middle of the feeding enclosure and proceeded to introduce us to each single orphan that was there.
We were told that most of the orphans received their names from where they were found, and what caused the babies to be abandoned. While some where found alone for no apparent reason (the field team will always try look for the herd and mother to try reintroduce the baby back with them), many were orphaned as their mothers where victims of poaching.
It was incredible how each orphan had their own equally wonderful and animated personalities; whether it was coming up to us just for a scratch, wanting to lean on people of that they fell over, a cuddle from the team members, a bit of football playing, or sitting on each other when one was trying to get out of the mud bath.
Each of these babies stole the hearts of everyone around.
What i really respect about this Trust is that they encourage the surrounding communities to learn about elephants and general wildlife, and the importance of conserving them. School outings to the park are frequent, and we had the joy of seeing such an outing where the children were absorbed in the orphans and squeals of pleasure and happiness were often heard.
When the orphans are past their natural weaning age, 2 years old at the earliest, the Trust reintroduces them back into Tsavo National Park through a series of introductions to specific herds. If the orphans do not return back into the sanctuary, then they have been accepted into that specific herd. Many of the newcomers into Tsavo National Park are quickly picked up by previous orphans from the Trust.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an incredible place filled with passionate, loving, dedicated team members that are dedicated to conservation and saving the lives of orphan elephants and rhinos, with the intention of releasing them back into their natural habitat.
Here is a link to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where you can learn more about this incredible initiative, adopt an orphan elephant or rhino, and more.