I am fostering two baby elephants through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Ajabu was born just around the time that my USA Projects was launched in April. She was found wandering alone with no sign of her mother or herd in Tsavo East National Park. She also was a newborn: her umbilical cord was still attached. Her name translates to “mystery” in Swahili. I chose her because she was born just around the time that the wildLIFE Project was launched and I hope to follow her progress as time goes on. Here is her video, and you can also see her story here.
The second elephant calf is Barsilinga: he was found on March 28th last year in Northern Kenya next to his dying mother, who was riddled with bullets by poachers who were after her tusks. Sadly she could not be saved and had to be euthanized. His story is here.
I hope to learn more about these animals through the notes made on their progress as they grow up. Most of these orphans are lucky to be alive – poachers are relentless – in order to get the ivory, they will kill every animal in the herd if need be, despite their ages. The future of the elephant population is dependent upon the success of this program as well.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been dedicated to wildlife preservation since 1977 in the Tsavo National Park.
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.