Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Kenya is my favourite place in the world. My grandmother and the majority of my family live there, and as soon as I  get my first wiff of earthy air I feel like I'm home. 
Here it's all about visiting family, walking around barefoot, and eating lots (and lots) of rich delicious food. I must have gained a kilo a week for 3 weeks straight.  A ritual though, whenever I come is to visit the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphange, located on the edge of the Nairobi national park. Open to tourists only from the hours of 11 - 12, you are able to see baby elephants playing with each other in the mud and being fed milk from large baby bottles.

On my visit there were 25 baby orphans, all ranging from 2 - 4 years of age who's mothers had been killed by poachers. On previous visits, there have even been some as young as 6 months old. These elephants are the lucky ones, found in the wild, but the keepers at the orphanage say plenty more are left in the wild to die. 

On the visit, the head keeper Edwin, talks to you, explaining who each elephant is, and how he or she came to the orphanage. Many are found injured in the wild, depressed and traumatized by the events that have occurred in their young lives. Many of the older elephants may want to kill humans in revenge, and through love and care this instinct is calmed. The elephants will help this process too, they communicate with each other, and lead by example. Edwin explains how these elephants are looked after in the nursery for around 5-6 years and then moved to a rehabilitation centre to be placed back in the wild. Care is taken to ensure they are never fed human food, which could cause them to enter villages and be shot. 

Elephants are beautiful loyal creatures, dark reddish brown from playing in the mud, devotedly attached to the keepers who have hand reared them. Naturally, these creatures yearn for families, and the keeper becomes the mother, feeding them a special milk for the first 3 years of their life around 5 times a day. These keepers cannot leave,because as loyal as the elephants are, cases have been found where the baby elephants will mourn the loss of the second "mother" so much they can die from the heartache. For this reason, the keepers rotate daily, so that while the elephants are never alone, they are unable to develop attachments to just one person, and instead develop attachments to a "family". 

The elephants are fed on SMA gold cap infant milk, as it is as close to elephant milk as possible. The manufacturers give the orphanage damaged tins that cannot be sold. 

To date, approximately 140 elephants have come through the nursery to be rehabilitated back in the wild. Dame Daphne Sheldrick has created an incredible foundation, while best known for the elephant orphanage, it works hard to prevent poaching and to save Rhinos along with elephants. Despite the trusts hard work, the number of elephants in the african continent have decreased from 700,000 to 360,000 and the chinese demand is what appears to be driving it. Simply put, they do incredible work! 

If you feel like visiting the orphanage, donating some money or even adopting an elephant you can find the details here : 

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