Picture this: Dozens of waist-high baby elephants charging in from their morning walk in the fields. Running, trumpeting, and sometimes stumbling they form an adorable stampede. Their object of desire?
Dozens of green-smocked handlers, each holding a giant-sized baby bottle. It’s feeding time at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, also known as the Baby Elephant Orphanage.
The pint-sized pachyderms run up to their wards, latching on to their bottles and as babies do the world over, drink the life-quenching milk as they close their eyes in baby nirvana.
Just another morning feed at this unique facility for orphaned elephants and rhinos as well. Their feeding done, the baby elephants walk to a nearby pond for a quick roll in the mud.
The Story Behind it All
This is a story of passion and love of wildlife, especially elephants. It’s been the legacy of one family, that of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who back in 1977 founded the orphanage.
Like her warden husband, David, Daphne Sheldrick was an expert on rearing wild animals and saw the need to help abandoned and orphaned elephants, many a victim of poaching. Through her continued efforts, Sheldrick was the first to develop a milk formula so essential for the survival of infant elephants and rhinos.
Located in Nairobi National Park, just minutes from downtown Nairobi, the Orphan’s Project is open to visitors during their morning feeding.
Now with the passing of the Sheldricks, their daughter, Angela, her husband, and children have taken over the mission of protecting these precious creatures.
Where Do The Elephants Come From?
David Sheldrick was the game warden at Tsavo National Park, and it was there the first baby orphan, Aisha was found and nurtured back to health. Today, the trust has anti-poaching teams throughout Kenya rescuing these victims of human-wildlife conflict.
It’s a long process to save and rehabilitate a traumatized baby animal. Each elephant baby has its own handler who becomes a surrogate parent, caring for, feeding, and even sleeping with its young charge. This caring process can take years until the young adult animal is brought to one of several rehabilitation or reintegration units at Tsavo Park.
This next phase can take up to ten years as the individual elephants are gradually transitioned back into the wild herds. So far, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has raised over 200 of these orphans and transitioned over 100 back into their natural habitat.
Completing the circle, over 25 baby calves have been born in the wild to these reintegrated orphaned elephants.
You Can Play a Part
Besides showing your support with your admission fee to the Orphan’s Project, the trust encourages interested visitors to ‘adopt’ a rescued baby elephant or rhino.
Your adoption will help with the 24-hour care the orphans require including their personalized Keeper and veterinary support.
You’ll receive an adoption certificate, monthly updates, and access to photos, videos, and notes from your Keeper’s diary.
As we know, elephants are an endangered species and are under a constant threat for survival. Support for the Trust and Orphans Project is a wonderful and heartfelt way to show you care.
Let Africa Kenya Safaris bring you to the Baby Elephant Orphanage for an absolutely unforgettable moment in your safari adventure.