Saturday, August 27, 2011

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nairobi Elephant Nursery

This week I am doing something special for the new Our World, my first PicStory and my Friday Ark and Camera Critter. I do not advertise on my blog but I was happy to receive a request to do a blog post from National Geographic. The featured story is on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Nairobi Elephant Nursery in Kenya. I read this story sometimes with tears in my eyes and sometimes with a smile on my face. It is a touching story and a wonderful thing happening at this elephant nursery. I believe in conservation and protecting the wildlife and endangered critters and that is what this story is about. I want to thank the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and to the wonderful keepers of these orphaned elephants.




 National Geographic (credit: National Geographic)


The following excerpt comes from the September issue of the National Geographic magazine, on newsstands now and the link to



These are sad and perilous days for the world's largest land animal. Once elephants roamed the Earth like waterless whales, plying ancient migratory routes ingrained in their prodigious memories. Now they've been backed into increasingly fragmented territories. When not being killed for their tusks or for bush meat, they are struggling against loss of habitat due to human population pressures and drought. A 1979 survey of African elephants estimated a population of about 1.3 million. About 500,000 remain. In Asia an estimated 40,000 are left in the wild. And yet even as the elephant population dwindles, the number of human-elephant conflicts rises. In Africa, reports of elephants and villagers coming into conflict with each other appear almost daily.

The plight of elephants has become so dire that their greatest enemy—humans—is also their only hope, a topsy-turvy reality that moved a woman named Daphne Sheldrick to establish the nursery back in 1987. Sheldrick is fourth-generation Kenya-born and has spent the better part of her life tending wild animals. Her husband was David Sheldrick, the renowned naturalist and founding warden of Tsavo East National Park who died of a heart attack in 1977. She's reared abandoned baby buffalo, dik-diks, impalas, zebras, warthogs, and black rhinos, among others, but no creature has beguiled her more than elephants.

Orphan infant elephants are a challenge to raise because they remain fully dependent on their mother's milk for the first two years of life and partially so until the age of four. In the decades the Sheldricks spent together in Tsavo, they never succeeded in raising an orphan younger than one because they couldn't find a formula that matched the nutritional qualities of a mother's milk. Aware that elephant milk is high in fat, they tried adding cream and butter to the mix, but found the babies had trouble digesting it and soon died. They then used a nonfat milk that the elephants could digest better, but eventually, after growing thinner and thinner on that formula, these orphans succumbed as well. Shortly before David's death, the couple finally arrived at a precise mixture of human baby formula and coconut. This kept alive a three-week-old orphan named Aisha, helping her grow stronger every day.


All photo credits: ©Michael Nichols/National Geographic




Dedicated keepers at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Nairobi Elephant Nursery in Kenya protect baby Shukuru from the cold and rain, and the risk of pneumonia, with a custom-made raincoat.




Even orphaned babies out for their morning walk from the nursery seem to understand the complex structure of elephant society. Here the oldest orphans lie down to invite the younger ones to play on top of them.


The introduction of orphan elephants to Tsavo National Park is bringing wild herds back to a region devastated by poaching decades ago. Ithumba mountain is near the park's northern border.


Again credits for these awesome photos by : Michael Nichols/National Geographic



My interest in elephants has really peaked from seeing them recently at the National Zoo and especially two weeks ago when I heard that the elephants at the Baltimore Zoo linked trunks and all clustered together before the earthquake was felt. It is amazing these animals are so sensitive. Being an animal lover, one of my dream trips is to do an African Safari and to see these wonderful animals in the wild.

You can check out the whole story in the September issue of the National Geographic magazine on newstands on August 30.  I really enjoyed reading this beautiful story about the orphaned elephants and I hope you all do too. It is also cool that you can go to the Sheldrick wildlife trust site and adopt one of these orphaned elephants. Thanks to the hosting group at  Our World  PicStory and Friday Ark and to Misty Dawn of Camera Critters.

Thanks to everyone for visiting my blog and post.. I hope the end of your week is great and that everyone has a great weekend.












41 comments:

Denise said...

Wonderful post Eileen. I think I saw a documentary on this very same place a while ago.

SandyCarlson said...

This is gut-wrenching stuff. Thanks for lifting it up Eileen, and thanks for joining us at Our World Tuesday.

ladyfi said...

What an immensely moving story.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A wonderful post -- brought tears to MY eyes reading it and I will go to the web site. Funny everybody used to subscribe to the Nat'l G and now I don't know anyone who does. I'll check the Library.

I have heard things like your earthquake story before about elephants -- just another example of their wonders!

Gattina said...

I don't know why, but besides my cats I also love elephants ! Your post is very interesting and the babies are so cute !

Francisca said...

Eileen, this is a marvelous form of awareness-raising. NG is very clever to pick a long-time nature lover like to you blog about this sad, yet moving, story about the decline in the elephant population and one caring woman's efforts to make a difference. Well done, Eileen! And I too have an African safari high on my bucket list.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Eileen! I love animals and especially elephants. I should like to go to Africa on safari one day. Elephants are so intelligent and sensitive.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Calling by from Our World Tuesday as another participant, what an interesting post, thankyou for sharing. My husband really enjoys his subscription to National Geographic.

Thankyou for calling by and taking the time to comment on News From Italy, do hope you will drop by again.

Tina said...

This photos are soooo amazing. I love elephants :) If you like, join us at PicStory (Animals) this week. You are warmly invited :) LG Tina

Mami Made It said...

Great post and fabulous pictures!

Leckeres für Mensch und Katze - Goodies for a pleasant life said...

Welcome to *PicStory*! I´m so glad you joined us with this wonderful picstory :) Hope to see you again!

Esther Garvi said...

Love elephants! So glad someone is caring for the orphaned ones!

George said...

Thanks for bringing this story to our attention. The David Shelrick Elephant Nursery is doing marvelous work. Their story is a remarkable one.

Ebie said...

I could see how much they care about the elephants. A very nice and wonderful post.

National Geographic is a well read magazine.

Congratulations for this post.

Karin M. said...

The shots are very nice. I love the elephant. years ago I was in Kenya and have seen elephants in Tsavo my first in nature. It was a dream ...
LG: Karin

Carletta said...

Super post Eileen!
I hadn't heard the story about the zoo and the earthquake - amazing nature.

Cheryl said...

My sister is an elephant lover from way back. She keeps me updated on the perils they face trying to survive.

Thanks for posting this important message.

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Wonderful post.

Regards!

Sivinden said...

Elephants are fascinating animals!

Rhea said...

I love National Geographic. And these photos of the elephants are wonderful!

I'm so impressed by Daphne and her late husband's dedication to raising the orphaned baby elephants. I'm impressed how hard they worked to find the right formula.

And I love the term waterless whales.

Great post!

Twiggy said...

What a amazing post! Thank you for sharing.

chubskulit said...

I love that coat on the little guys! Thanks for the visit and comments Eileen!

eden said...

Great post, Eileen! It was featured in one of our local tv channels featuring about raising orphan elephants too. It was so touching. Elephants are beautiful.

diane b said...

That is so cute the orphans playing together. They are fabulous animals. Great post. Hope your ream comes true.

Tina said...

Congrats! You are voted at PicStory! :)

Nita said...

Hello

I came here and wish a good week.

A kiss.

Nita

Joe Todd said...

Thank you Eileen. What a great post. I haven't been to the zoo this summer but will now.

NatureFootstep said...

OMG an elephant with a raincoat. Pour babies. :(

Pearl Maple said...

Thank you for sharing this and bringing the nature's story into our internet world

RNSANE said...

I have always loved elephants and your post was so touching and heartbreaking. What wonderful work is being done to help these orphaned elephants. We are such a selfish species, for the most part, so seldom stopping to think what harm we are doing to our planet and to the other species that share it with us.

My Little Home and Garden said...

The National Geographic photos are wonderful.

Carver said...

What a great post. It is so sad what's happened to elephants.

Princess Sarah said...

This is great, I wanted to join too.

The Colours of Life

Bananazஇ said...

Its a big task saving their tusks and meat at the least they can do dance to the tune of 'baby elephant walk' knowing pretty well that someone who cares for them. tQ.

Nita said...

Welcome to my garden.
I'll be back.

Diane AZ said...

So sad the plight of the elephants, but it is heartwarming to see the dedication of the keepers at the nursery. Great post!

Ann said...

our local zoo has one elephant left, there are people who protest having more, some people like more. What is a zoo without elephants?

bettyl said...

Absolutely stunning photography and great story.

Tina´s PicStory said...

I have changed my blogname and all the links are not working now. If you have a link to my blog or the button in your sidebar you have to change it, that you can reach me. Thank you soooo much for your help! :) Tina

Shoshana said...

Thank you for sharing this story.

Louis la Vache said...

Fascinating post.