Last week (12 August), we celebrated “World Elephant Day,” a day to rejoice in these wonderful giants—and (I hope) an opportunity to draw more attention to the ongoing massacre taking place in Africa, all in the name of providing trinkets and status symbols made of ivory.
At a special place on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, attached to Nairobi National Park, every day is elephant day. At the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), orphaned elephants from East Africa arrive terribly traumatized and often badly injured, some of them as young as a few days old. They’re typically orphaned when poachers kill their mothers (or entire families). The youngsters who arrive at DSWT are the lucky few who get a second chance at life, and a new family–with a lot of luck, expert medical care and tons of love.
Here’s one of the stories DSWT recently shared:
Zongoloni was just 18-months old when she became an orphan of the ivory trade and witnessed her mother gunned down by ivory poachers. Despite treatment from DSWT and Kenya Wildlife Service Vets who did the best they could to remove shattered bone and treat the mother’s wounds, two weeks later this baby elephant was found guarding the body of her dying mother—chasing away our elephant keepers who came to rescue her.
One can’t comprehend the levels of grief and trauma this tiny baby elephant must have suffered, and understandably when Zongoloni first arrived at the nursery, she was extremely wary of the keepers given her experience with humans so far. But thanks to love, support and 24/7 care from a dedicated group of Kenyan men who act as our elephant keepers, she overcame her trauma and found a new family in the form of the other orphans in our care.
In several years’ time, Zongoloni will return to the wild and have a family of her own; it is our responsibility to ensure these orphans don’t end up as another horrifying statistic and can live out their lives in the wild, free from threat.
You can learn much more about the work of DSWT (and sponsor elephants!) here.
(Photos and story: courtesy of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)