Not a day goes past that I am not thankful that I live in close proximity to some of the worlds most wild, majestic and endangered animals. Living in Nairobi we have the opportunity to experience these animals first hand on a daily basis if we chose to. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an organisation based nearly opposite the kids’ school in Langata. The DSWT rescues orphaned animals (mainly elephants) from all over Kenya and cares for them until they can be released back into the wild. The sanctuary is open to the public every day of the week between 11 and 12, for a nominal fee you get hour to spend with the elephants, seeing them feed, fart and caper about like the toddlers they are.
HOWEVER, if you decide to adopt an elephant and live nearby the experience can be so, so much more…for 5000 shillings (approx. 50 dollars) adopting an elephant, rhino or giraffe gives you the chance to visit the animals every day at 5pm. In the evening only a few special ‘parents’ get to spend a truly magical time with the animals. See the babies charging (literally – I nearly ended up in a water trough once) home from the bush where they have spent the day, back to their pens for feeding. The keepers care for each elephant, ranging from teeny ones a few months old to teenagers with tusks emerging. These keepers are so dedicated to their charges that they sleep within the pens at night, gently feeding them elephant sized bottles of milk, covering them with a blanket and remaining with them all night to ensure they are not distressed. A visit allows you to see the whole ‘putting to bed process’, plus a chance to visit every orphan and spend time speaking with the keepers.
At this time the DSWT is also caring for Kiko the Giraffe and Maxwell the Rhino… Maxwell was born blind and despite several eye operations will remain that way for his entire life. As the endangered black Rhinos are territorial without his sight he is unable to be returned to the wild. The DSWT will care for Maxwell for his entire life – a span of some 35 to 50 years.
In short paying 50 dollars allow you unlimited, hands on access to the cutest bunch of baby ellies you will ever see, if this doesn’t motivate you to adopt then consider what a wonderful and entirely worthwhile cause this is… PS: you can adopt and be the proud owner of an elephant even if you never step foot in Nairobi. Visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for more info. My kids and I will be back there weekly to visit our little Sattao and give him a goodnight kiss.