A journey to Kenya might seem like the trip of a life-time, but being Kenyan born, it has been a place where I have often returned. A regular article found in my bag, is a can of condensed milk. Not for me, or my long-time friends and family who still live there, but for elephant calves at the Sheldrick Orphanage in Nairobi. Established in 1977 by Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the orphanage rescues, rehabilitates, and returns to the wild, elephant calves from all over Kenya.
These calves have been orphaned due to poaching, and inadvertent run-ins with humanity, such as falling in wells. Over the years, I have “fostered” many of these orphans, and have watched them with the general public, as they are escorted back in after a long day of grazing, to receive a bottle of condensed milk.
But this year, aside from having the pleasure of bringing my boyfriend “home” with me, to visit my native land, we had the great honor of a private “backstage” tour at Sheldrick, walking with the elephants, and their individual keepers, through the surrounding Acacia groves.
Seeing the commitment of the keepers, who live with them 24 hours a day (and even sleep in the stalls with their assigned calves), birthed a commitment from my boyfriend, and cemented my own, to support the calves and their keepers. While the fight to protect the Kenyan wild-life from the evils of poaching, and from the ever encroaching environs of modernity, might seem so difficult, getting involved has never been easier. For a small donation of $50.00, an elephant or rhinoceros calf can be fostered, by visiting www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.
Some photos courtesy of Jeffrey Doornbos – www.jeffreydoornbos.com