Monday, October 21, 2013

Our newest addition to the family!

Rescuing baby elephants whose mothers have been poached or killed by other types of human interactions is the main mission of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's baby elephant orphanage. The orphanage is located on the outskirts of the Nairobi National Park -- a wildlife park in our city. Although the stories behind the babies' mothers are tragic, you would never know it to see these little guys romp and play and eat. The elephants are rescued by the staff at the orphanage, usually after a call from the National Wildlife rangers and staff. The babies are brought to the orphanage and cared for by Keepers who literally become their lost family; they feed them, sleep with them, and keep them warm and dry for the first several months of their lives. When they are young babies, the staff must feed them every 3 hours, even during the night. Eventually the babies are reintroduced slowly into the wild, and life with a herd. The Trust owns a portion of the Tsavo National Park, where Kenya's largest elephant herd lives. At around the age of 3, if the elephants are doing well, the Keepers take them to Tsavo, where they are gradually reintroduced and welcomed by other elephant herds. The other orphans who have successfully reintegrated to the wild are often the first to welcome the newcomers. The rangers told us that their former orphans often come back to the Trust's station to visit. It was surprisingly touching to see how kind and gentle the Keepers were with their charges, not overly affectionate, but we could tell they had developed relationships with them.

After watching them eat (out of bottles, so stinking cute!) and play for about an hour, visiting time was over; it was time for the elephants to go play and hang out in the bush. We then made our way over to the table and adopted our own baby elephant! Her name is Kamok, and she was born on 8 September of this year. She was found on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy as a newborn and was very sick; the Trust even had to give her blood transfusions to ensure her survival. Our donation as a foster family will help provide her with the needed food and other costs of rehabilitating her for the wild. Another benefit is that we can go put her to bed in the evenings (if you come see us, we'll take you with us!). 

If you want to learn more about the Trust, or adopt an elephant of your own (we'll go put him or her to bed for you, don't worry), go to www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.






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