Daphne Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage Visit
Duration: Half Day
Located in Nairobi Game Park in Kenya, Daphne Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage was originally started by famous naturalist David Sheldrick, who was the first person to study the movement pattern of elephant herds and the first person to rescue and hand-rear orphaned elephants. His magnificent work was taken over by his wife Daphne after his death in 1977, who continues to look after and support orphaned baby elephants from all over Kenya. This tour is a wonderful way to get close to these beautiful creatures during your holiday in Africa, whilst learning about the important conservation efforts taking place every day.
Most of the baby elephants in Nairobi Game Park are there because their mothers have been killed by hunters, due to the rise in ivory poaching. Other babies have either got lost in the wild or been separated from their mothers for reasons unknown. The African elephant calves are hand-reared here with the intention of gradually reintroducing them into the wild once they are strong enough to survive. This can take up to 10 years, however, so the trust has a dedicated team of trained and competent elephant keepers who represent a “family”, replacing the orphans’ natural family until they are ready to be released.
As well as feeding, washing and walking the babies, the elephant keepers provide vital emotional support because the separation from the mother is a traumatic experience. It takes time to build trust between the keepers and the calves, after which a close relationship can develop to compensate for the loss of the calf’s natural mother. This is essential for rearing the elephants successfully, who mirror humans in terms of emotion.
When ready, the elephant is finally transferred to Tsavo Game Park to begin the final part of its release back into the wild, where they can finally roam free again and start their own families. Some of the original nursery orphans have successfully reared their own young, which they have brought back to show their human family.
Visitors to the park can see the young elephants interacting with their keepers – playing, taking mud baths and being fed with milk. This is a wonderful sight to watch and a wonderful way to get up close to the babies and observe their playful habits, something which isn’t always possible − or safe − in the wild.
The Nairobi Elephant Orphanage opening hours are from 11am-12 noon daily. Donations are welcome, offering much needed support for this remarkable cause.
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