While in Nairobi I paid a visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They are a non-profit dedicated to helping orphaned elephants live on despite the death of their mother.
You may wonder why the elephants become orphans. There is disease and there are accidents that leave elephants injured or dead. But there is also poaching. I had thought that poaching was a thing of the past, but in reality it’s never been worse. By some estimates there may be no elephants left in Africa within ten years, with devastating effects to the ecosystem as a result.
Since there are not exactly elephant wet nurses, it was a 28-year struggle to develop a synthetic formula that supports the growth of the elephants. Many elephants died along the way, unfortunately. The elephants need a very low-fat diet so cow’s milk just wouldn’t do. This milk is soy-based and gives them what they need to grow!
The public is only allowed to see the elephants one hour per day. The rest of the time they eat, play, and hang out with their minder. Elephants attach to someone and each elephant has a minder who is basically with them always. As you’ll see in the pictures, the minder even has a bunk in the elephant’s sleeping quarters. I presume it’s a bunk in case the elephant rolls over in his/her sleep!
If you’re in the U.S. below is a beautiful documentary about how the orphanage got started in the first place.
Overall, I have a soft spot for baby animals and these guys tugged at my heart strings for sure. The work they are doing is incredible. If you’re interested in learning more about how to save the elephants, click here. You can also adopt an elephant and get regular updates from the team in Kenya about its progress. Visit their website for more information.