An elephant orphanage located in the Tsavo national park in Kenya does a remarkable job of looking after young orphaned baby elephants. All too often, the elephant calves have been exposed to violence of some sort and are in a disturbed state of mind. It is not uncommon to have the young elephants crying for their mothers and moving restlessly, throughout the night. One young calf was so disturbed that he tried to sleep while standing in a corner.
Each orphaned calf is assigned a keeper, who does his best to soothe the animal by using blankets, around which the elephant wraps his trunk, in trying to simulate the mother-baby interaction. Some of the calves are too young to even suckle the formula milk that is fed to them. Quite often, the calves become close to their keepers though this is discouraged and the orphanage tries to ensure that the elephants get used to different keepers. The keepers do their best to increase the social interaction between the calves. The best way to do this, it seems, is water play. What a sight – lots of young elephants playing, splashing and often fighting with each other, in the wild.
The orphanage is called the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and in spite of the nurturing environment provided by them, several calves do not make it. The trust allows you to adopt baby elephants, with the minimum sponsorship amount being $50 per year. They send you pictures of the elephant that you sponsor and you can even visit them, provided you make the arrangements beforehand.
Here’s hoping that the orphanage continues to do the good work for years together, to bring some relief to the young animals. Meanwhile watch this space for pictures of my adopted baby elephant. Click here for further information (and pictures) of the trust: Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project