Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s love for animals started at a young age. Born in Kenya, she was always with animals both wild and domestic.
As a result of Dr. Sheldrick’s lifelong experience with wild animals, strong knowledge and deep empathy, she and her husband David Sheldrick (founding warden of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park), created the most successful orphaned elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.
Following her husband’s death in 1977, Dr. Sheldrick started the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to commemorate him. At the heart of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the Orphans’ Project, which has been hugely successful with its elephant rehabilitation program.
Caring for orphaned babies is no easy task. The babies cannot tolerate the fat in cow’s milk. It took Dr. Sheldrick nearly three decades to perfect her home made formula; the base which is imported premature baby milk and also contains coconut oil.
At the orphanage the elephants are fed every three hours, and a keeper sleeps with those under a year old, watching them through the night.
Dr. Sheldrick, along with her daughter Angela, also runs a rhino orphan project, eight anti-poaching units, two mobile veterinary units, habitat protection projects and outreach work.
At the beginning of this month Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta gave a boost to the fight against poaching by setting fire to more than 15 tonnes of elephant ivory tusks during a ceremony at the Nairobi National Park.
“Twenty-five years after the historic banning of the ivory trade, demand from the emerging markets once again threatens Africa’s elephants and rhinos,” President Kenyatta said.
“We want future generations of Kenyans, Africans and indeed the entire world to experience the majesty and beauty of these magnificent animals. Poachers and their enablers will not have the last word in Kenya.”
Dr. Sheldrick commented on the very emotional scene that she was “immensely proud of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Actions.”
To date, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully hand-raised over 150 infant elephants and effectively reintegrated many orphans back into the wild herds at Tsavo. They also have had dozens of reintegrated orphans go on to have babies of their own.