Too many orphans

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and its elephant and rhino orphanage in Nairobi is a saviour to the lives of so many elephants who have suffered at the hands of humans and our intervention.

Dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, release and conservation of these gentle giants, the orphans project has provided hands on relief for hundreds of suffering elephant orphans. Under the guidance of Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the elephants are rehabilitated in an environment where vetinary experts treat their physical wounds and diagnose broken hearts, and keepers begin the laborious task of teaching elephants to trust humans once more.

It’s heartbreaking yet heart-warming to see the lengths that a group of heroes can go too, to right our wrongs and re-build broken souls. Through soft touch and spoken word, the keepers build a relationship with the orphans that sees them fulfil the role of a surrogate mother. Using little more than baby milk formula and heavy grey woollen blankets to imitate the bulk of a mother elephant, the keepers devote themselves to a life that quite literally has then eating and sleeping with the orphans. A life that visitors may envy. One seemingly uncomplicated, readdressing the balance. But unfortunately it is not always enough. No matter how hard the trust tries, some broken hearts cannot be patched over, wounds won’t heal and some illnesses are overwhelming for such small frames. But the resilience of the keepers and vets to dedicate day after day, night after night to this cause is one that warms the heart of many in the face of such adversity and senseless suffering.

(This is an extract from our book ‘Vulnerable Giants’)

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