My visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has to be one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life, and it could not have come at a better time. As I lumbered through the Nairobi National Park towards the elephant orphanage, I was welcomed by buffaloes, sheep, and goats with Kenya’s skyline illuminated behind, a sight I will never forget!
Misson Statement of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that compliment the conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safeguarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.
After entering the orphanage trust at noon, I was escorted to a small elephant viewing area, that was centered on a muddy open field. I gazed in anticipation, and a moment later, the animal handlers entered the field, followed by a procession of twelve baby elephants. The elephants made their way towards the open field and I was surprised to see how each elephant reacted instinctively to the instructions of their keepers, trusting them completely. The baby elephants were fed by the handlers which were so heartwarming to see!
“Mammals require three essentials in life, identity, stimulation, and security, and by far the most important of these three psychological cornerstones is identity.”
― David Sheldrick
The little elephants started to romp around the field like toddlers, after finishing their milk. While the elephants gamboled, the keepers explained how individual orphans were rescued from their respective areas. These elephants had suffered through calamities like wildfires, flood, and most-importantly human-wildlife trafficking. Most of them had been orphaned as a repercussion of poaching to fulfill the contentment of the growing demand for ivory. At that moment, I was filled with despondency, subdued by hearing the struggles of these poor creatures. The loss of their habitat due to deforestation and population pressure as well as the negative impact of the humans to their habitat had caused the segregation of elephant herds, thus exposing the young, weak and vulnerable to the verge of extinction.
I was so happy to hear that the orphaned elephants were assigned names, one that I really liked was Kuishi which means ‘to live’ in KiSwahili.
Each keeper is assigned fulltime, to monitor the growth, and maintain the proper health and wellbeing of the elephant. Every time, I see a keeper playing with the elephants, I can see their love and care. As Kuishi drank the milk, from the keeper’s hand, I witnessed contentment in her eyes, as she blinked gracefully and stared at the keeper for a few seconds. Aah! It was just beautiful. Kuishi then rolled herself in mud, and wagged her tail, making us all smile. After witnessing the keepers’ dedication, I learned that we all have a bigger responsibility, not simply to observe and learn about the orphaned elephants and take pictures but to perform an integral role by taking an initiative and contributing in every way possible to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
“To be a baby elephant must be wonderful. Surrounded by a loving family 24 hours a day…. I think it must be how it ought to be, in a perfect world.”
― Daphne Sheldrick
While the baby elephant continued playing, the commentator gave a short heartwarming explanation on the hardship endured by these elephants. It was painful for me to listen, as I would never have imagined that even such magnificent creatures like elephants would have to experience the consequences of human folly. It’s not just us that fall prey to injustice! I have to admit, I had tears in my eyes, as I stood there listening to the commentator speak. It was agonizing for me to hear Human activities and their interaction with nature sadly leads to all animals being on the brink of extinction. It just shows the paucity of education, and awareness that needs to be generated among the communities about the significance of wildlife.
Amidst hundreds of spectators who have come to view the baby elephants at David Sheldrick, I sensed a flicker of hope. It became evident to me, to realize just how much love, care and patience it must take to monitor these vulnerable creatures, and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a testament that manifests the bold conviction of hope. It is also a reminder to all the humans, that everybody has a part to play, to educate, share and a be a voice for the voiceless. I also feel so grateful to have learned and understood the significance of being aware and conscious of events that occur in the world, that gives you a perspective about life, about suffering and about the altruistic, and benevolent efforts that are being taken to safeguard the wildlife.
Some more pictures to enjoy this regal creature!
Time for Home!