The Elephant Orphans of Kenya.
My last day in Kenya was spent at the place where it all began for me. The place where I first learned about the plight of orphaned elephants in the wild via the Internet and what ultimately brought me to Africa- The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust nursery in Nairobi.
Situated on the outskirts of town and within the national park that surrounds the city, here is the place where elephant orphans lucky enough to be found from all over Kenya have a home with other victims whose mothers or families have been lost to illness, natural causes, or gruesomely, at the hands of desperate poachers for their ivory.
You can’t help but be emotional when you see small animals that have lost their natural families. It is heartbreaking to watch a sleeping two-month-old baby elephant, worn out from a day in the sun, with a full tummy of milk, and resting underneath her blanket, with the knowledge that she witnessed the horrific death of her mother as she was poached for her ivory.
This story is not uncommon as you visit each of the stalls and inquire about each animal with the keepers who watch over them protectively every day and night. They tell you what they know about each baby, how they were found, what might have happened to their mothers or their families. They exemplify true dedication and love.
It is unbearable for me to think of the cruelty in the world where we have lost respect for the creatures that have a right to their home in Africa – one where humans continue to reach in, to take without thought, and destroy without remorse. At the end of the line are generations of animals who have been here for thousands of years. It is hard to imagine that only a decade of thoughtlessness can remove them completely from the earth, fueled only by greed and the ego of the human soul. Are we not mad as a species to continue to let this happen?
We must put an end to their suffering and to their families in the wild. My will to be dedicated to making this happen is now stronger than ever.
Thank you to all of those who work for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and for the passion in rehabilitating these animals back into their rightful home. May we all find the courage and dedication to supporting the cause as you do.
Weary, inspired, and sunburnt, I now find myself on a journey back to my home, to friends and family who are ready to help in the fight for the elephants and their future. Godspeed to us all.