This long-awaited memoir by Dame Daphne Sheldrick was published in March. Beginning with her childhood on a Kenyan farm, it leads on to her role in the Tsavo story, where her late husband was a game warden in Tsavo East National Park. This paved the way for her lifelong work in conservation to becoming a world authority on raising elephant and rhino orphans. It’s an enchanting story with excellent reviews. If buying this book directly from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the proceeds go towards conservation projects in Kenya.
Daphne has successfully reared numerous baby elephants, and you can read about it in her book, ‘Orphans of Tsavo’. She has a team of dedicated keepers who have endless patience with the baby pachyderms – feeding them, and even sleeping with their charges in a stable to ensure they feel safe at night.
Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage
This is a wonderful morning’s outing in Nairobi National Park to see the baby elephants and rhinos which have been rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (set up by Daphne in memory of her husband). Once the elephants have become reasonably self-sufficient, they are translocated to Tsavo East National Park where they join the older orphans.
Emily the elephant
It so happened that I fostered one of the more famous orphans, Emily, for my nephew when he was seven. He often used to ask me if I was going to see ‘his elephant’. At 15 he visited Kenya for the first time. First we visited the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, which caused great intrigue and much hilarity as the babies wallowed in muddy puddles. But by this stage Emily had been translocated to Tsavo East National Park. Here the elephants are out during the day and come into a boma (coral) at night. We subsequently made a special detour when visiting Tsavo. Driving through the park on red dusty tracks, we just made it in time to see the elephant orphans in the evening. It was well worth the effort to see the astonishment on Alex’s face when he discovered Emily was considerably larger than he’d envisaged, standing 2 metres at the shoulder. Since then, Emily has joined the wild elephants and had a baby of her own.
Fostering an orphan elephant is a wonderful way to involve children in the conservation story. A special bonus for foster parents is to visit the orphanage in the evening. Here you can help with the last bottle of the day, before the orphans settle down for the night. We watched a little rhino carefully getting underneath his mattress to go to sleep. A tiny elephant was soon fast asleep in the straw, her head on a mattress. And her keeper covered her with a blanket, as if she were a child. With the current upsurge in poaching, the work of the orphanage is stretched to capacity.