Operating the World’s Most Successful Orphan Elephant Rescue

A man and an elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya.

A man and an elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya.
Drought and habitat destruction. Ivory, horn, and bushmeat poaching. Human-wildlife conflict. While these threats may not be everyday struggles in your life, they are an ongoing concern in Kenya. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) in Nairobi is doing something about it. In fact, they have been at it for more than 40 years as one of Africa’s oldest and most established wildlife charities, protecting elephants and rhinos from harm.

Human-wildlife conflict is nothing new in Africa, but as the population of Kenya is set to grow by 50% by the year 2030, it is becoming an increasing issue that is not going away any time soon.

Born out of one family’s passion, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the first and foremost elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation charity on the continent.

Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, a rhino and a girl.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was established in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick (1934-2018) in memory of her late husband, conservationist David Sheldrick.

From their first conception as an elephant rescue organization to their world-renowned reputation today, the SWT is tackling significant issues like poaching, illegal charcoal and logging production, and infrastructure. In other words, they are going beyond rescuing animals and facing the future of Kenya head on.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust boasts some impressive statistics: 244 successfully-raised orphans, 17 hand-raised orphans, 30 babies born to orphans now living in the wild.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is not resting on its success though – quite the opposite. In addition to saving elephant, giraffe, and rhino orphans, they are passionate about struggles like drought and deforestation.

The Orphan’s Project

One of the mainstays of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust that goes back to its roots is the Orphan’s Project. The Orphan’s Project seeks to rescue and rehabilitate elephants, giraffes, and rhinos back into the wild. These animals become orphans in the first place due to habitat destruction and poaching.

Man feeding milk to orphaned baby elephant at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in Nairobi, Kenya.

Through the Trust, members of the public can adopt an elephant, giraffe, or rhino for as little as $50 per month. Adopters can select their animal by filtering for location, gender, species, and age. An adoption certificate, email updates, personalized artwork, and photos and videos are all included, along with the knowledge that you are increasing the success rate for orphaned African animals.

There is no reason why humans and animals cannot live in harmonious balance, and with the work of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the world is one step closer to that goal with each animal rescued.