The world’s elephants need our help. In the past few decades, habitat loss, poaching, and the illegal wildlife trade have caused the African elephant population to drop to unprecedented lows. It is estimated that one elephant is killed every 15 minutes for their ivory tusks and if we don’t do something to stop this rampant poaching, these animals will be extinct from the wild within the next 20 years. We have come to know elephants for their gentle nature and awe-inspiring grace, but we are being faced with the harsh reality that we might lose them within our lifetimes because of our actions.

Thankfully, there are many people who refuse to give up in the face of this challenge and are determined to save the elephant. Dame Daphne Sheldrick is one of these extraordinary people. Sheldrick is a pioneer in orphaned elephant rescue and rehabilitation and has been working to save struggling orphaned elephant calves for 50 years. Caring for an orphaned elephant calf is very delicate business and for a long time, the biggest difficulty was finding a milk formula suitable for rescued little ones.

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Over 40 years ago, Dame Sheldrick discovered the perfect combination and has since helped to save the lives of over 190 baby elephants

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Caring for baby elephants is not that unlike caring for a human child. These little ones are entirely dependent on their mothers for protection, nourishment, and love. In the absence of their mothers, calves are highly susceptible to illness, depression, and being attacked by predators, Sheldrick has been able to give so many orphaned little ones a better life thanks to the creation of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s (DSWT) Orphan Project. 

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DSWT takes in orphaned elephants and provides all the basic care and treatment the little ones need, but more importantly, they also provide unconditional love and round-the-clock care for the babies. Elephant calves form beautiful bonds with their caretakers that enable them to develop confidence and acclimate to their new surroundings. Once they are well enough, all of the rescues are introduced to the herd where they get to learn all the skills they will need to be released back into the wild. 

The work of Dame Daphne Sheldrick and the Orphan Project has helped save the lives of countless elephants, giving this dwindling species a real shot at recovery. Of course, if we want to ensure a viable future for elephants, we need to work to stop the causes of their population decline.

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You can learn more about the plight of elephants and how you can help, by checking out the resources below:

Image source: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust/Facebook