Thousands of elephants are killed every year for their ivory. Their beautiful tusks are cut off and sold on the black market. This awful practice leaves many baby elephants without their mothers.
Many of the elephant poachers are never caught because they operate at night and are extremely difficult to track down. One woman was so heartbroken by what was being done to these incredible creatures and decided to take matters into her own hands.
Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick has been raising elephant orphans since 1977. All of these baby elephants have suffered terrible physical and emotional injuries; most of which were inflicted by the devastating ivory trade and the loss of their mothers.
Dr. Sheldrick established the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in her husband’s honor. After years of caring for wildlife together, he passed away. She wanted to continue his legacy.
In Dr. Sheldrick’s elephant rehabilitation center, the babies have plenty of room to run around and play. Each individual elephant also has their very own personal handler, so they receive a lot of attention and affection.
Dr. Sheldrick even developed a milk formula that nearly mimics the taste and quality of an elephant’s mother’s milk. It’s important that these baby elephants receive the nutrients they need in order to grow to their massive size.
Dr. Sheldrick’s main goal is to help the babies recover and grow so that they can return to the wild and repopulate the wild herds that have diminished due to poachers.
Not only did Dr. Sheldrick take in and rehabilitate many orphaned elephants, she also began taking in rhinos as well. Their population was dwindling in the wild for the same devastating reason. Dr. Sheldrick wanted to do everything in her power to stop the ivory trade and help these poor animals.
When the animals are old enough, and well enough, they are taken to a relocation center in Tsavo National Park, before eventually being returned to the wild. It’s a passion and a joy for Dr. Sheldrick to see them back in their natural habitat.
The elephants clearly love and respect Dr. Sheldrick for all that she does. She says they’re just like humans, “only better.”
“They’re not corrupted. Their sense of family is as strong as ours. Their memories are amazing and their convoluted thinking and reasoning is equal to that of a human … The caring and nurturing is far greater in elephants than it is in humans, and loyalty and friendship endures.”