In Africa, Daphne Sheldrick created a sanctuary for orphaned elephants; their mothers were killed by ivory hunters.
Their sweet way, despite their size, weight, and superhuman strength, has made elephants easy targets for hunters throughout Africa’s history. Every year, hundreds of these animals are killed for ivory, the substance that makes up their giant prey. The material is sawed and sold illegally, mostly to collectors.
There’s no monitoring of that practice since hunters act at night. And, as if the atrocity of attacks on these beautiful creatures, which by the way are threatened with extinction, were not enough, another factor related to the hunting of elephants is even more dramatic.
With the death of elephants, many chicks of the species are left alone, susceptible to death, whether by hunger or other predators.
Compassionate about this situation, a woman has been taking care of these little ones for years in a type of sanctuary located in the heart of Africa.
A doutora Dame Daphne Sheldrick cria os filhotes de elefante desde o fim dos anos 1970, no David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, cujo nome é em homenagem ao seu marido. Ele começou o trabalho ao seu lado, mas alguns anos depois (1977), faleceu.
From then on, Sheldrick decided to keep the legacy built next to her beloved alone. In the institution, injured elephants are welcomed, who were exploited on farms or even found alone on safari after their mothers were killed by ivory hunters.
The space has the same conditions as the jungle.
Large fields, lagoons, lots of food, and, of course, the special attention of the local breeder. Sheldrick makes a point of following the growth and physical evolution of each of the animals.
So much affection becomes clear in a series of images that show the interaction of the elderly with the animals. It can be said, without a shadow of a doubt, that they evolved with her. The photos show the woman, since the time of the black and white photos, caressing and playing with the elephants.
In the most amazing portrait of the photo series, you can see the animals lined up as she hugs one of them. The others seem to understand and continue there, just waiting their turn, as if they wanted to thank the woman who dedicated her life to the preservation of this so rare and impressive species. It is to be moved with such affection and solidarity.
In the rehabilitation centre, each animal has a caretaker, which was the way found to increase the animals’ confidence and adaptation. Every day, the little ones receive a layer of sunscreen on their skin to avoid sunburn.
After 28 years of research, Sheldrick has also developed a milk formula that is as tasty and nutritious as an elephant mother’s milk. Until the supplement was created, it was virtually impossible to keep the puppies in captivity in the same health as they would have if they were being breastfed by their mothers.
The goal is that the puppies recover from physical and psychological trauma, and grow up healthy, so they can be released into the wild, ready to build new herds and raise the rate of the species in the jungle.
There are even rhinos in the area, another species very much in demand for the ivory contained in its horns.
Before being released, however, the animals are taken to a relocation centre in Tsavo National Park so that the return to their habitat is as less traumatic as possible. With each match, Sheldrick feels a tightening of the chest, but the satisfaction of seeing the animals free is even greater.
It also guarantees that the memory and family sense of elephants are identical to those of human beings, with the difference that they donate all this peace without wanting anything in return, just by instinct.
Today, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust relies on donations and has been steadfast in its purpose of rehabilitating elephant puppies, even without its most illustrious collaborator, since 2018. Daphne Sheldrick died of cancer at 83 but left a legacy of solidarity and struggle after saving over 230 elephants.
Check out the video that shows a little bit of Sheldrick’s trajectory in his institute.
Source: O Segredo