Baby Elephants Tug at the Heart Strings, Nairobi
How travel broadens the mind. In this case having dinner with other trekkers who asked if we’d seen the baby elephants at Sheldrick Elephant and Wildlife Orphanage in Nairobi.
No, we hadn’t but were super keen. What better way to finish off the incredible and humbling Wildlife Safari we had just finished with World Expeditions. This had taken us through the Ngorongoro Crater and national parks of Tarangire and Lake Manyara. We’d enjoyed close encounters with herds of elephants but the chance to see large numbers of baby orphans was exciting.
From a young age I’ve been attracted to elephants because of their proven long memory. Imagine having a 4.1/2 kg brain to pop all useful information into for random recall when needed in the future!
The next day our friendly taxi driver drove us to the orphanage nestled within Nairobi National Park. It was only a 30 minute drive and located on route to the airport.
Meeting the Baby Elephants
There is an entry (donation) fee of $5 – such a small price when you consider the cost of feeding and caring for the large number of baby elephants, rhinos and giraffes.
Opening times are 11am until 12 noon and we joined the queue along with a class of primary school children from St Jude’s School.
The fenced waiting area had several large, and very muddy, ponds for baby elephant play time – vital for their social upbringing.
Lunchtime for Babies and Teenagers
Then – there they were! Little elephants hurtling towards us at a fast pace. Well…. it wasn’t us that had their attention but the huge 4 litre bottles of milk waiting to be drunk for lunch! (Elephant calves rely on milk to exist for the first two years of their lives).
Their friendly keepers, and adoptive parents, walked alongside the little creatures to feed them, show them off to guests and answer any questions.
The babies were fed, had playtime and posed for hundreds of photos. Their antics caused fits of laughter and all too soon it was time for them to go back to their compound. It was then time for the teenage elephants to be fed and enjoy a play and show off session.
The statistics on these beautiful creatures are very confronting. Many are found standing beside their dead mothers that had been shot by poachers for their ivory tusks. (Yes it still happens – there are thousands of elephants killed each year by poachers. Rhinos fall into this same category of poaching as well).
In an effort to save the baby elephants and rhinos that are orphaned because of poacher’s attacks, the David Sheldrick Trust takes charge of being their “adoptive mother.”
The animals are taken care of 24/7. Apart from the feeding, they are also closely monitored for cold and warmth, have interaction at playtime and are handed out love by the bucket loads.
And, so importantly, every one of these orphans can look forward to a quality wildlife environment, living free in Tsavo East National Park.
Fostering a Baby Elephant
The Wildlife Trust has saved more than 150 orphaned baby elephant calves, which would have definitely perished
There is a program for fostering of the animals at the Wildlife Sanctuary. You receive:
- a certificate of thanks
- a profile and photograph of your adopted orphan
- a link to the Keeper’s Diary so you can follow the progress of your progeny on a regular basis.
This is also a truly unique and novel gift that can be enjoyed throughout the year for that special person who has everything
Plus – what great encouragement to visit Africa, go on a life changing wildlife safari and then drop in to meet your fostered orphan, the one with huge ears and tufts of bristles all over its chin!
My fostered baby elephant is called Mutara – her birthday is the same week as mine. She was found at the age of one week old standing next to her mother who was badly injured and sadly couldn’t be saved.
Now – did you know that?
- The shape of an Indian elephant’s ear is similar to the shape of India, and
- The shape of an African elephant’s ear looks like the continent of Africa!
Now, there’s a snippet for your next Trivia night!