These elephants may have had a rough start in life, but it doesn’t affect their ability to love – like these adorable images from inside an elephant orphanage.
The staggering pictures show baby elephants playfully seeking solace from their caregivers and offer a rare insight into the world of troubled kids – many orphaned, indirectly or indirectly by human actions.
Despite their short lives devastated by the loss, these baby elephants still have a lot of love for the caregivers at the particular orphanage run by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT). in Nairobi National Park, Kenya.
Many of these orphans had lost their mothers at the hands of humans and have experienced emotional, and often physical, pain when they were too young and were still dependent on milk, a spokesman for the DSWT said. It is our responsibility to nurture and take care of them so they not only survive but eventually thrive again in the wild.
Our Orphans project brings hope and healing to these traumatized children, and our human caregivers work around the clock to replace the missing orphans, providing the love, protection, care, and milk they need 24 hours a day, just as their mother did.
For 40 years, DSWT has rescued and raised milk-dependent orphan baby elephants so that they can return to nature in the reserve as they get older.
Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE has pioneered the formula and care needed to care for milk-dependent baby elephants. Otherwise, they will die.
In response to a daily call of the year, the DSWT travels all over Kenya to rescue orphan elephants that have been left alone with no hope of survival.
Many rescued orphans were victims of human-wildlife conflict, habitat destroyed or poached, and on the brink of famine.
Acting as surrogate mothers, those who manage to breastfeed their babies every three hours stay with them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – even sleep in a cage with them.
This close family relationship formed between breeders and elephants has helped the latest orphans overcome the traumatic beginnings they have endured in their short lives. This could include watching their mothers slaughtered for their ivory.
Like humans, elephants keep a strong family bond, and the loss of a mother can have a devastating effect on their mood, as they mourn, often stop eating, and their survival is suspended.
Each elephant remains in the Arboretum until they are ready to journey to one of the three Reintegration Units, located in protected areas in southern Kenya.
This second phase of recovery at the Reintegration Units proudly sees each orphan elephant gradually transform back into a wild herd, performed at each individual’s pace over the period. For up to ten years, they become part of the human-loving elephant family, eventually living their lives in the wild freedom.
To keep them safe, DSWT operates 11 Snail Squads in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service, Air Surveillance, and a Canine Unit that includes fully trained watchdogs for wildlife crime detection.