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    David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Tsavo National Park Kenya & Elephants Orphanage

    This is the story of safaris and nights under the stars; of my ‘soul mate’ David, my daughters Jill and Angela, the birth of our elephant orphanage, my life lived – all interwoven with spell binding stories of the many different animals that have immeasurably enriched my life, animals I have reared and loved and come to know as a surrogate mother. Set against the majestic land of Africa, my story begins.’ ---Daphne Sheldrick

    Daphne Sheldrick ancestors were some of the first European settlers to journey through the unchartered Kenyan wilderness. They traveled for months by wagon through thick impenetrable bush, braving tsetse flies, dust and heat, predators preying on their livestock, and the spears of locals, many of whom had never seen a white face before. it’s a love story on many levels – Daphne’s love of the land that she is so intimately attached to (Africa, Kenya and Tsavo National Park), her adoration of the orphan elephants she rescues, and her romance with David Sheldrick, her ‘soul mate’ and warden of Tsavo National Park. There is something magical and deeply mysterious about Tsavo National Park, besides being one of the world’s largest and most important protected areas, spanning 16,000 square miles in Kenya (roughly the size of Wales) it is considered one of Africa’s last truly wild and untamed regions. Tsavo National Park natural beauty and incredible biodiversity will drop you to your knees in awe. As Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick eloquently reflects, "What is it that makes Tsavo National Park such a compelling and magical obsession for those of us who know it well and love it unreservedly. It is the big skies, the space that extends beyond each horizon - it is its denizens who live in this, their land from the largest land mammals on earth - the majestic elephants and those that are living legends with massive ivory, but also the contrasting seasons that transform the landscape over night in response to even a little rain. The dry seasons have their own beauty and magic, twisted trees devoid of foliage but with magic shapes, the towering red castles of clay inhabited by the termite workers of the world, the rocks studded with garnets and bejeweled with glittering quartz and the hushed voices of the natural world when one listens to the silence.” Tsavo National Park Kenya is home to Kenya’s single largest remaining elephant population estimated [2011] to be about 12,000. In the late 1960’s Tsavo National Park was blessed with over 35,000 elephants and everywhere you looked there were free roaming elephants. Magnificent bulls carrying tusks that touched the ground were frequently encountered and admired.


    Today, Tsavo National Park is at the epicenter of Kenya’s poaching epidemic placing her last surviving “big tuskers” in peril. Conservationists agree that Tsavo National Park may harbor the world’s last viable gene pool of elephants carrying tusks that touch the ground and weigh in at over 100 pounds. Very few “big tuskers” remain in all of Africa with Tsavo National Park sheltering as few as 4 and possibly as many as 12. Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick states, “Elephant Bulls who carry enormous Ivory Tusks that touch the ground are the true majestic monuments of the wilderness. Their majestic bearing epitomizes grandeur and nobility, power and stature and is a spectacle of awesome magnificence. They are the Emperors of the Elephant World; true Kings whose mere presence demands the respect and admiration of all, and none more so than their Elephant peers both large and small. Sadly, in today’s world, all elephants that carry ivory, even those with small tusks, are under siege due to the demand for ivory in countries of the Far East, especially China. Poaching is driving these magnificent animals towards extinction, and those Emperors of the Elephant World are becoming extremely rare due to the evil and greed of humankind.” The Tsavo Conservation Area is the heartbeat of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The Trust is deeply invested in conservation efforts in the Tsavo Conservation Area, including anti-poaching initiatives (aerial surveillance and ground units) a mobile veterinary unit, drilling of bore holes and water access for wildlife, erecting windmills that pump water into natural pans during the dry season, providing fuel and mechanical provisions and reducing human/wildlife conflict through financing firebreaks, road construction and fencing for boundaries and protected areas. Their dedication and passion for Tsavo National Park is undaunted and inspiring.


    The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is founded on 50 years of personal experience, science, ethology and deep insight into elephant consciousness and traumatology. The name of Sheldrick and Tsavo National Park are synonymous and it is in Tsavo National Park that the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has its roots and vision. The Tsavo National Park is Kenya’s largest wildlife refuge, harboring the country’s single largest population of elephants and a greater biodiversity of species than any other Park in the world. In Tsavo National Park the Trust has established two Elephant Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centers. The Trust has its Elephant and Rhino Nursery in Nairobi National Park, Nairobi, Kenya. The brave and compassionate work of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, her daughter Angela Sheldrick and a team of highly trained and dedicated keepers weave a tapestry of unwavering commitment to the conservation and protection of the African Elephant. The Trust is world renown for its rescue, rehabilitation and release of orphaned African Elephants and Black Rhinos. The breadth of the Trust is wide; including the rescue, raising and release of various other species of African wildlife, proactive support of a complete ivory ban, organizing and funding anti-poaching initiatives, community outreach, education regarding bush meat, cattle grazing and fencing practices, wildlife desnaring units and several mobile vet units that respond quickly to injured or sick wildlife in areas including, Tsavo National Park, Amboseli National Park, Masai Mara National Park, the Shimba Hills, Chuyulu Hills National Parks and wherever they can reach. The David Sheldrick Trust is a moving and glorious testimonial to the depth of the human heart and undaunted dedication to the soul of the African Elephant. Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick was the first person in the entire world to successfully hand rear newborn fully milk dependent African Elephant orphans, something that spanned 28 years of trial and error to achieve. In a recent 2011 letter, Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, reflects, "I have been working with orphaned African Elephants for the past 50 years, and through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, established in memory of my late husband, the Founder Warden of Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, the Trust has hand-reared under my supervision over 130 orphaned newborn elephant calves, two from the day of birth.


    All our elephants, once grown, gradually make their way back into the wild herds of Tsavo as and when they are sufficiently confident to make that transition, some now having wild born babies of their own, which they have brought back to proudly show the human family of Keepers that replaced their lost elephant family in early infancy, and steered them into adulthood and a normal and natural wild life again when grown. With elephants, one reaps what one sows and the greatest gift of all is freedom. All our orphans, without exception, eventually lead perfectly normal wild lives again back where they rightly belong." For her work, Daphne Sheldrick was decorated by the Queen in 1989 with an M.B.E., elevated to U.N.E.P.’s elite Global 500 Roll of Honour in 1992, among the first 500 people worldwide to have been accorded this particular honour, and awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery by Glasgow University in June 2000. In December 2001 her work was honoured by the Kenya Government through a prestigious decoration - a Moran of the Burning Spear (M.B.S.), and in 2002 by the B.B.C. when she received their Lifetime Achievement Award. In the November 2005 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine Daphne Sheldrick was named as one of 35 people worldwide who have made a difference in terms of animal husbandry and wildlife conservation. In the 2006 New Year’s Honours List, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Dr. Daphne Sheldrick to Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, the first Knighthood to be awarded in Kenya since the country received Independence in 1963. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a small, flexible charity, established in 1977 to honour to memory of a famous Naturalist, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE, the founder Warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, where he served from its inception in 1948 until his transfer to Nairobi in 1976 to head the Planning Unit of the newly created Wildlife Conservation and Management Department. David died 6 months later but his legacy of excellence and the systems he installed for the management of Tsavo and wildlife generally in Kenya, particularly in the sphere of wildlife husbandry and ethics, lives on.


    Charitable Status and How the Trust Operates


    Since its inception, the Trust has remained true to his principles and ideals, its modus of operation overseen by 6 competent and well versed Trustees assisted by an Advisory Committee of practical Naturalists with a lifetime experience of wildlife, local environmental conditions and the history of conservation in this country. In 2004 the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust attained US Charitable status enhancing its corporate funding capability under the guidance of the U.S. based Friends of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, all whom work on a voluntary basis. On June 2004 it was incorporated as a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee in the U.K. and granted charitable status by the Charities Commission, its Charity No. 1103836. A Company Limited by Guarantee retains the overall jurisdiction of the Trust's existing Trustees over the disbursement of funds generated in the U.K.


    Elephant Orphans


    The first young elephant orphans of Tsavo National Park Kenya were "Samson", a two year old baby bull orphaned during drought conditions in 1952 and "Fatuma", a two year old baby female orphaned by poachers soon afterwards during the same year. There followed many others over the subsequent early years of David Sheldrick's 30 years as Warden of Tsavo East National Park, but always *only* those orphaned either, just below, or at two years old and over, survived. The hand-rearing of a fully milk dependent *infant* elephant (i.e. under two years of age) was something that eluded the Sheldrick's for 28 years for an infant elephant is milk dependent for at least the first two years of life, and those that survive in a wild situation without access to milk between the age of 2 and 3, are few. This has been established by the scientific monitoring of the Amboseli National Park population for the past 30 years. The composition of the *fat* content of elephants' milk is very different from that of cows' milk, added to which evidence suggests the actual protein and fat composition of elephants' milk varies during different stages of lactation to cater for the growing needs of a baby. This means that two years is a very long time to be reliant on an artificial substance that is not identical to /mother's milk,/ especially in view of the fact that Nature has made infant African elephants *exceedingly* *fragile;* they can be fine one day and dead the next and one can never be sure that a calf will survive until it is past its second birthday. The hand-rearing of orphaned elephants is an emotional roller-coaster for those involved, for tragedy stalks success and can strike unexpectedly at any moment.




    All the elephant orphans raised by the Trust are gradually rehabilitated back into the wild elephant community of Tsavo National Park African when grown, a transition that is made at their own pace and in their own time, but usually taking approximately eight to ten years. A number of our ex Nursery orphans have now had wild born young which they have brought back to show their erstwhile human family, and others are now pregnant and living free, yet keeping in touch with those who are still Keeper dependent. Amongst these are many orphaned too young to have any recollection of their elephant mother or family.


    Supporting David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust


    Supporting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a deeply enriching experience and participating in their Baby Elephant Foster Parent Program is an experience of intimacy, joy and often sadness. Each baby elephant orphan has tragically lost its mother due to ivory poaching, bush meat poaching or human encroachment causing separation. Expertly and compassionately rescued by the Trust, each baby orphan has the potential to be placed in the Baby Elephant Foster Parent Program. Once the baby elephant orphan has been stabilized and found comfort among the family of orphans he/she is then placed in the Fostering Program. Within the program, people like you and me can foster an orphaned baby elephant and follow it as it heals from physical and emotional trauma matures and one day returns to the wild. You receive a Baby Elephant Fostering Certificate, interactive map indicating where your fostered orphan was found, monthly summaries, updates and beautiful artwork by Angela Sheldrick. It is a fantastic way to learn about the issues impacting African Elephants and become personally involved with elephants and the Trust. We highly recommend it for gift giving and for teaching young children about respect, compassion, empathy and the magnificent intelligence and sensitivity of elephants. Through the DSWT website, monthly summaries, the Keepers Diary, you receive insights into African Elephant behavior, psychology and what makes elephants that they are; and best of all, you are part of a global family that supports and follows the life of these precious baby orphans as they find their way back into their wild home. There are many ways you can help the David Sheldrick Trust. Our conservation efforts rely on your support to enable us to continue to protect not only orphaned elephants and rhinos but thousands of other wild animals within their natural habitats and anyone can become a part of the DSWT family and join the ‘herd’ by fostering an orphaned elephant or rhino online today. If you would prefer not to donate online and you live in the UK or USA, please click the relevant tabs to the right hand side of this page for information about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in the UK and the US Friends of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. These non-profit organizations can assist you in making a direct donation to them. For people living in Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, please choose the ‘other’ tab for guidance on alternative ways to make a donation.


    The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Community Outreach Programs


    For over a decade the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Community Outreach Programs have been vital in building sustainable relationships with the local communities bordering Kenya’s National Parks and wildlife protected areas. These successful programs strive to improve living conditions and educational standards, encouraging communities and the next generation to protect their wildlife and environment. The following initiatives are essential components in the Trust’s approach to long-term wildlife protection, each requiring sustainable financial support in order to continue achieving great results.


    Ant poaching Project


    Since April 1999, the David Sheldrick trust has been involved in operating and funding several highly successful de-snaring teams who continually work what sensitive boundaries can be covered of the giant Tsavo Conservation are, often finding it necessary to penetrate deep inside the Park itself in pursuit of illegal bush-meat activities. Our de-snaring operations are undertaken with the close cooperation of the wildlife authority, (the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Our teams are accompanied by armed KWS Rangers at all times, who have powers of arrest. Currently we have been able to mobilize 7 fulltime de-snaring teams, all headed by University Graduate Team Leaders endowed with the necessary dedication and passion for wildlife to be able to make a difference. Together these exceptional young men have kept their teams fully motivated and have also been responsible for sensitizing communities bordering the Park within their specific areas of operation, thereby making a positive two-fold contribution to wildlife conservation. Theirs is a crucial holding action until the bush-meat crisis can be adequately addressed through stiffer court penalties and legislation enacted that again outlaws the possession of game meat. The snaring of wild animals, which was once practiced only at a subsistence level, is now commercial big business which is unsustainable and threatens the very existence of many species. Recent surveys show that wildlife has decreased by as much as 60% since l990 when the legal culling of wild game was allowed on a quota system within privately owned ranches. We appeal for financial support for our de-snaring efforts in order to alleviate suffering and cruelty on an immense scale, combined with intense lobbying of the Government to instill deterrent jail terms for offenders. Unless the bush-meat crisis is addressed, this insidious form of poaching will bring down Kenya’s lucrative tourist industry and annihilate its irreplaceable wildlife heritage.


    Tsavo National Park


    The name of Sheldrick and Tsavo are synonymous and it is in Tsavo that the Trust places emphasis. 8069 sq. miles in extent, the Tsavo National Park is Kenya’s largest wildlife refuge, harboring the country’s single largest population of elephants and a greater biodiversity of species than any other Park in the world, since, by fortunate accident, there the Northern and Southern races of many species merge. Being of low and erratic rainfall, it is arid marginal tsetse infested land easily reduced to desert under domestic stock and as such unsuitable for ranching or agricultural activities. In a country where an expanding human population is making increasing demands on the land, there is no better form of land use for this region than under wildlife. Tourism is a main source of foreign exchange for the country so Tsavo under wildlife is an extremely valuable National resource. The Park’s very size is its strength, for it is self sustainable and ecologically viable without intrusive human interference of its wild populations, other than to monitor, learn, take heed and better understand Nature’s ways. Indeed Tsavo can boast a proven record in this respect, having weathered devastating droughts and violent flooding, epidemics of rinderpest plus natural population surges and swings triggered by elephant induced vegetational progression, yet its rich biodiversity remains intact, strengthened through accepting natural selection which is a vital tool to distil out imperfections and keep the gene pools pure. Besides harbouring most of Kenya’s elephants, and providing the space they need for a quality of life in elephant terms, Tsavo is also home to the last of the great herds of buffalo in Kenya, the rare Hirola, or Hunters hartebeest, the largest population of lions left in Africa and a broad spectrum of other predators in healthy numbers, including the now extremely rare African hunting dogs, striped and spotted hyenas (under pressure in small sanctuaries) with reported sightings by experienced Naturalists of Brown Hyenas as well, previously not recorded in this part of the world..


    Black Rhino Conservation


    The Trust was the pioneer of Kenya’s very effective conservation strategy to retrieve the highly endangered Black Rhino from extinction, something that has been emulated elsewhere in Africa. It masterminded the concept of electrically fenced enclosures within the Protected Areas so that outlying survivors of the species could be concentrated for breeding purposes. Aside from purchasing Crates and constructing Relocation Holding Stockades, the Trust was instrumental in the establishment of Kenya’s first enclosed Rhino Sanctuaries in Tsavo West and Lake Nakuru National Parks. It also pioneered the free release of excess animals from these Sanctuaries into Tsavo East, mindful of the fact that should security collapse (as it has in the past), enclosed rhinos are more at risk than those living free.


    Rhino Orphans


    The Trust also pioneered the successful hand-rearing and complicated strategy of successful rehabilitation back into established wild rhino communities of orphaned Black Rhino calves. Its expertise has been responsible for saving many orphaned rhino calves on Kenya’s Private Ranches as well as elsewhere in Africa. Its hands-on practical experience and inside knowledge of this species is unmatched.


    Elephant Orphans


    The same can be said of Elephants, for the Trust can claim another important first. Daphne Sheldrick was the first person in the entire world to successfully hand rear newborn fully milk dependent African Elephant orphans, something that spanned 28 years of trial and error to achieve. By the year 2008 the Trust had successfully saved and hand-reared over 82 infant African Elephant calves, two from the day of birth. Currently, over 40 of the Trust’s hand-reared elephants are fully established and living free amongst their wild peers in Tsavo, some returning with wild born young to show their erstwhile human family. Based at two established Elephant Rehabilitation Centers within Tsavo East National Park others are still in the gradual process of re-integration with yet others in early infancy at the Trust’s Nairobi National Park Elephant and Rhino Nursery. The Trust has trained a team of competent Elephant Keeper who replace the orphans’ lost elephant family until such time as the transition to the wild herds has been accomplished, something that can take up to l0 years, since elephant calves duplicate their human counterparts in terms of development through age progression. Those that were orphaned too young to recall their elephant family remain dependent longer, but all the Trust’s orphans eventually take their rightful place amongst their wild counterparts, including those orphaned on the day they were born.


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