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Across Africa, elephants are being poached at an alarming rate. Targeted for their ivory tusks, it is estimated that up to 50,000 elephants are killed by the ivory trade every year. As the result, the African elephant is in grave danger of going extinct within our lifetime. While there are many anti-poaching initiatives being considered and put into action in Africa, conservation is a two-fold process.

Protecting full-grown, tusk bearing elephants from being poached is one part of the solution, and the other is to protect the smaller victims of the ivory trade: the orphans that are left behind. If a mother elephant is killed for her tusks, her babies are left without care and do not have a high chance of survival. This is where caretakers like Peter Mbulu step in.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is known for their integrative Orphan’s Project, an initiative that works to rehabilitate orphaned elephant infants and work to reintroduce them into wild herds. Peter Mbulu works for the DSWT Orphan’s Project and has 21 little elephants in his care.

Watch the elation on the elephants’ faces as Mbulu brings out milk bottles and plays with their little trunks. Elephants are very social animals, and as infants they need a lot of love and care. Mbulu certainly knows how to make these orphans smile and hopefully, one day thanks to his aid, they will all be released back into the wild and form thriving communities.

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