After our full immersion among the Elephants in Amboseli, we drove to Tsavo East NP. The main purpose of our visit there was to see the orphaned Elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Voi facilities. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/) is a charity organization whose main purpose is to raise orphaned baby Elephants and Rhinos and release them in the wild when ready. The orphans under two years of age are kept at the Nairobi nursery, while the older ones are moved to two locations within Tsavo East NP, where they are slowly reintroduced into the wild. Baby Elephants are very delicate and fragile creatures, and the DSWT is the first organization that succeeds in the complicate task of replacing effectively Elephants’ maternal cares and milk. Orphans come from all over Kenya and East Africa, and with the recent wave of increased poaching, the number of orphans has increased. Voi is one of the two locations in Tsavo East where Elephants are released in the wild following a gradual process of habituation and mixing with wild Elephants. At the moment there are 16 baby Elephants in Voi, all between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. The Elephants spend the day out in the bush with their keepers, mingling with wild Elephants, having mud baths, feeding on the natural vegetation. At this age they still need milk, so at night they return to their stockades where they are given milk and extra food. We were there at 5.00pm waiting for the orphans to return from the bush. It was amazing to see them run up the road racing each other to their ratio of milk. We then stayed among them as they feed on nutritious and delicious branches prepared for them in their stockade. I was fascinated to stay so close to Elephants, even interacting with them at times as one tried repeatedly to grab my arm and pull me to her with her trunk. By the age of six the orphans start spending less and less time in the stockades, remaining often out at night with the wild Elephants until they are completely reintegrated into the wild. Some old ex-orphans are already giving birth of calves of their own in the huge wilderness of Tsavo. For the Elephants currently in the stockades there is still some time to wait but soon they’ll be ready to join the wild Elephants where they belong.
The work that the DSWT is doing is amazingly great. From the founder, Dame Daphne Sheldrick, to all the Elephant keepers who spend all their life with the Elephants, their dedication to the Elephants and their conservation is magnificent. If you care at all for Elephants and wild animals, they deserve all the support one could give. Please, visit their website, read the sad stories and the happy ones, and foster an Elephant or two or more, they certainly need all the help we can give.0