The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was founded by Daphne Sheldrick in 1977, in honour of her late husband David Sheldrick. It is one of the most successful orphan elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation programs in the world.
During our one week stay in Nairobi, we decided to visit the David Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust, located inside the Nairobi National Park. The drive from Sankara Hotel, where we were staying, only took about 30 minutes and we arrived quite early. By the time the gates were opened at 11:00 am, a massive crowd of people had gathered around. Everyone rushed in quickly to get a suitable spot for viewing the elephants.
The orphanage is only open to the public from 11:00am to noon. We got a great spot thanks to our early arrival. Within no time, the little elephants ran from the bushes toward the feeding station, where the spectators were standing. The caretakers had wheelbarrows packed with huge milk bottles. One by one, the baby elephants arrived and like clockwork went straight for the feeding bottles. It was extremely amusing to watch them gulp down the milk so fast. When the caretakers took off the feeding bottles even for a second, they would let out a disheartening cry. The elephants were fed in groups. First came the younger cubs and once they were done feeding, they were sent away and then a second group of older cubs arrived.
Some elephants walked around the feeding station and we had a chance to touch them. Nothing can truly capture the feeling of being in such close proximity to the largest land mammal in the world. Their skin felt very hard and surprisingly quite hairy. Once they were full, they started rolling in the ground and playing with each other. Some would let out a long loud fart here and there. It was hilarious to watch.
From time to time the caretakers would dig some soil off the ground and pour it on the elephants’ backs. That was to help them cool off. As the elephants played, strolled, and fed, a caretaker informed us about the history of the orphanage and how many elephants they have saved and reintroduced into the wild over the years.
After the show, visitors can buy souvenirs and offer donations to the trust. One can also pledge to adopt an elephant and see to its upkeep.