The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
This blog post has taken me ages to write. I have a pretty relaxed attitude towards blogging and if it weren’t for my boss this would probably have been up at the end of the week. I had to get Jess to help out with this post. Thank you Jess.
Up till a few years back, I didn’t know that one could see elephants in Nairobi. Elephants being the biggest land mammals tend to require a lot of room so mature elephants aren’t found in small parks like Nairobi or Nakuru. (Jess)
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was established in 1977 to honour to memory of a famous Naturalist,David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE.
Plaque identifying an orphan elephant.
Sadly, this year Kenya’s elephant population has greatly reduced due to increase in poaching of these mammals for their beautiful tusks. Many baby elephants are left orphaned and lacking source of provision since they are pretty dependent on their mother’s milk. Luckily, this is where DSWT comes in; they take in the orphaned elephants and give them all the care and love they deserve.
The elephants stay in the orphanage until they are 4 years old. It is at that point that they are then transported to Tsavo.
The elephant calves are fed on baby formula. SMA to be precise. They guzzle that stuff down, I am sure the orphanage goes through like a tonne of that stuff. On average calves in the wild drink about 10L of milk daily. They are fed every 3 hrs.
Once over the Nursery stage, and in Tsavo, the orphans begin their long and gradual re-integration back into the wild elephant community. The DSWT website (http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/) is full of useful information if you want to learn more about the trust and the orphans. You can also foster a baby elephant for as little as $50 per year.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is inside the Nairobi National Park. It is easily accessible via public transport. Just get matatu number 125 heading to Rongai and get off at the KWS Workshop gate which is off Magadi Road. From there it’s a bit of a walk but it is not too far.The orphanage can also be accessed by vehicle using the same route .
Entrance fee (or minimum contribution as they call it) is ksh.500 ($6) for everyone regardless whether you are a citizen or not.
Inside of the elephant quarters.
The calves sleep in the same place with their keepers. Keepers rotated so that the calves don’t get depressed when the keeper is away.
Elephant calves are adorable. One of my favorite bits was watching them run into the enclosure for their milk.While watching them feed one of the keepers talks about the orphans giving you basic information about them. He has got a mic-but it’s not easy to hear him over the chatter and if I’m honest I wasn’t paying attention coz I was too busy watching the elephants.
I’ve got a bit of a confession, for the longest time I thought an elephants’ ear canal was behind its ear flap…now I know better.
We got there late (thanks to Jess). You can only visit the orphanage from 11am-12pm daily. They have 2 groups of orphans, the younger lot and the slightly older ones. You get to see the elephants in that order. I’d advise one to get there early so that you have a nice spot to view the elephants. It doesn’t get too crowded but if you’re short then showing up late will do you no good.
All in all, the trip was well worth the donation fee.
LOL, I love the image 4th from bottom of the calves running for milk.
Beautiful post about beautiful animals, they always seen so vulnerable to me despite their enormous size.
I love how natural you are Rachael. Thanks for sharing yourself with each adventure. I was late for my Sheldrick visit, at least Gatuiri tried, (Hehehe) but al sure keep time next time.
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