David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary

This is an account of our visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary last year

Today we came back to Nairobi, and headed to the Kazuri bead factory. There we saw the unique manufacturing process of these famous beads and yes they do have a factory outlet where you can buy beautiful Kazuri necklaces for about $15.

Then it was on to the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary (www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org). The Shelrick compound was founded by Daphane Sheldrick after her husband David, a wildlife ranger in Tsavo for many years, died.

Before we left Greensboro we sponsored an orphaned elephant for a Christmas present for our goddaughter Sarah, NDII, Sarah’s first adopted child, a five month old elephant (born on Ashlie’s birthday). Normal elephant viewing time at Sheldrick is at 11am but if you adopt an elephant for $50, you can visit your adoptee at 5pm (by appointment only) after everyone else has left the sancutary except for the elephants and their handlers.   

While we were touring the compound I noticed Daphane off in a distance and we asked if we could say hi. What an amazing lady, she is in her 70’s, wearing a long flowing flowered print dress, the kind your grandmother would wear, and no shoes. She was dealing with a mess that a baboon had made getting into the elephants milk storage.

She told us how 30 years had made the center the only place in the world that had successfully nurtured nursing elephants back to heath and then reintroduced them into the wild. In the early days of the sanctuary, many of the orphaned babies died until they perfected the formula for a baby elephant. Cow’s milk did not work and they finally ended up with something closer to coconut milk.

The rangers sleep with the babies, many who have been orphaned, found in sewer drains or when their mother had been killed. She learned early on the the rangers had to change elephants every night or the elephant bonds so closely with it’s handler that they can not handle any separation. She learned her lesson when she was sleeping with an elephant, nursing it back to health and left to help her daughter with her wedding. While she was gone the baby elephant died of a broken heart.

Rangers sleep with the elephants for almost three years. Then they work to reintroduce the baby into an elephant family in the wild. The process takes five years. They normally don’t allow you to go into the stall with the elephants but the ranger agreed to let Lou and I into meet NDII. OMG, what a beautiful loving little creature. It’s tiny little trunk probed Lou as we were experiencing our first time close up with an elephant. NDII is certainly one of God’s incredible creations.

Sarah we got some great pictures of your beautiful baby. There have been some amazing woman who have changed the landscape and conservation of the beautiful creatures that call Africa their home, Diane Fossey, Karen von Blixen and Daphane Sheldrick top the list, over 150 elephants saved by this kind lovely grandmother. Another incredible day in Africa.