I want to share something amazing with you. Did you know that elephants grieve the loss of family members like we do? Some never get over it. They form family units that last their whole lives (60-70 years) and although baby elephants can graze by four months, they drink their mother’s milk until they’re five.
There are 29 orphaned baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust nursery in Kenya’s Nairobi National Park. Sadly, most of their mothers were killed by poachers. The youngest was orphaned at just a few days old and found wandering lost. Some orphans literally die of broken hearts, unwilling to thrive.
The little survivors learn to form new bonds with other orphans and keepers and are as playful as any group of small children.
Dame Daphne Sheldrick founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in honour of her late husband who was the founding game warden of Tsavo National Park for 30 years, now Kenya’s largest wildlife refuge.
The elephants are slowly reintroduced to the wild and keepers continue caring for them until they’re adopted into a herd, which can take years. About 160 elephants have been hand-raised and released, making the Trust the world’s most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program and East Africa’s leading conservation organisation for wildlife and habitat protection.
The Trust says its keepers are the happiest staff you can imagine! They have zero turnover and some have worked every day for 26 years. I don’t have to guess why.
Their tip*: An elephant is killed about every 15 minutes – at this rate by 2025 none will be left. The “iworry” campaign calls on all governments to enforce a ban on ivory sales and destroy stockpiles to stamp out the market for poachers – please sign the petition at iworry.org to support the fight against ivory trading and help slow the slaughter. You can also join me in sponsoring a baby elephant!