I was very impressed by the work of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They rescue baby elephants and take care of them in the Elephant Orphanage located on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. They have been doing this since the late 70s with the original patriarchy having started the orphanage in 1977. The team works around the clock to ensure the safety and welfare of all animals under their care.
Here is the Google map location.
So, what is a wildlife trust in the first place?
It is an organization that establishes protected areas, manages animal populations, and carries out research into the behavior of endangered species. In this case, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s primary focus is on elephants. The team looks after distressed or injured animals in need of help until they are ready to return to the wild.
The Elephant Orphanage is a safe haven for these baby elephants. They are provided with shelter, nutrition, medical attention, and the love of a human family. They learn how to eat, drink and become social again. The team also works on educating people about the importance of preserving wildlife for future generations.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust encourages visitors to come out to the orphanage which helps raise funds for their efforts. It’s an incredible experience to be able to get up close and personal with the baby elephants, especially being able to witness their playful behavior and watch them grow into big beautiful animals.
The orphanage also serves as a research center for those studying elephant behaviors, allowing scientists and conservationists to gain insight into the species. This in turn helps better inform conservation efforts to protect the species from becoming extinct.
In addition to their elephant rescue and preservation efforts, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust also works on protecting other species such as rhinos, giraffes and zebras by supporting habitat preservation projects and anti-poaching initiatives in Kenya.
The Elephant Orphanage is a heartwarming example of how kindness and compassion can make a lasting difference in the lives of animals. It’s also a great reminder to us all that our actions today can have far-reaching consequences for future generations.
And who was David Sheldrick?
David Sheldrick was a World War 2 veteran who came to Kenya as a child along with his parents and settled in Nyeri. Their family were coffee farmers. During World War 2, he attain the rank of a Major in the King’s Africa Rifles and when he came back to Kenya after the war, he became the founding warden of Tsavo at just 28 years.
David faced the daunting challenge of combating armed poachers, which compelled him to mobilize staff from the Game Department and National Parks. In his quest, he meticulously studied every aspect of the elephants’ lifestyle within the preserve, diligently gathering data on their dietary habits. Alongside his wife, Daphne, he exhibited immense compassion by rescuing and nurturing vulnerable elephants, rhinos, and antelopes.
As mentioned on his Wikipedia page, Sheldrick played a pivotal role in the development of Tsavo’s infrastructure. When he first arrived, the area lacked roads and buildings. He took charge of paving 1,087 kilometers of all-weather tourist roads, constructing 853 miles of administrative roads, and laying down 287 kilometers of anti-poaching tracks. Additionally, he supervised the construction of a sturdy concrete causeway across the Galana River.
So, who started David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust?
The Trust was not actually founded by David but by his widow. After David Sheldrick’s unfortunate passing at the age of 57 due to a heart attack in 1977, Dame Daphne Sheldrick established the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (formerly known as the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) as a tribute to his enduring legacy. One of the trust’s remarkable initiatives is the operation of a Nursery in Nairobi National Park, providing compassionate care for orphaned elephants.
When we visited this Trust, the warden explained that the orphanage is currently managed by the daughter of David.
What can I expect to see at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust?
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is situated on the edge of Nairobi National Park, offering a perfect home for orphaned and injured elephants. There you can witness first-hand the incredible work done by the team who care for these animals round-the-clock. You can also view some of their fascinating research projects which are helping to ensure the safety and protection of the elephants and other wildlife species.
Visitors can also enjoy interactive activities such as a ‘Name an elephant’ initiative, which allows you to choose a name for one of the baby elephants in the orphanage. You will even get your own adoption certificate with details of the elephant you named!
In the 1-hour elephant feeding sessions conducted daily, you will listen to stories about different elephants given by the warden who is very fluent in English. You can also get up close to these majestic animals and take pictures with them.
How can I book to visit David Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage?
Regrettably, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does not offer an advance booking or online payment system for visits. However, upon arrival, a minimum ‘donation’ is required for entry. The suggested donation is KES 2,000 / US$20 per adult (12 years and above) and KES 500 / US$5 per child (under 12 years). The donation can be made in cash or via Mpesa on the day of your visit. Thank you for supporting our cause.
To visit the nursery, please make an advance booking as access is strictly limited. We recommend reserving your spot early due to limited daily capacity. Bookings can be made up to three months in advance. Walk-ins are not allowed, so please refrain from coming without a booked place. You can make a booking here. As of August 2023, the online booking is not available but can check again here.
How to plan your visit to this orphanage when on a Kenyan safari:
Visiting this orphanage is one of our favorite recommendations for a 1-day safari in Nairobi. The visiting hours are between 11 am to 12 noon when the rescued baby elephants get fed and you’ll be taken through interesting stories about each of the elephants. If you have a layover in Kenya or are just visiting the city for a day, this is one activity we highly recommend.
Even if you are not planning a safari during your stay in Kenya, you can still visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and make an unforgettable experience. Combine your trip with other activities such as exploring Nairobi National Park or even going on a hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara.
The Elephant Orphanage by Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an amazing place that highlights the importance of conservation and protection of wildlife species. Make a visit to this orphanage and get inspired by the incredible work being done by individuals, organizations, and governments alike in protecting our planet’s precious creatures!
What other ways to support this organization?
With a $50 donation a year, you can adopt an elephant and you’ll be getting a monthly newsletter about the development of your adopted elephant, and access to exclusive photos & video diaries of their progress. This is a great way to show your support as well as keep updated on all the wonderful work being done at this orphanage.
You can also join their conservation club which raises awareness and funds for conservation projects across Africa. As a member, you will be able to receive exclusive access to events, participate in group activities and receive discounts on merchandise.
What I thought about this orphanage after visiting: my review
After visiting the Giraffe Center, I made my way to the nearby elephant rescue center located in the same area, towards Nairobi National Park. I was immediately struck by the stark contrast in the management of the two facilities and the dedication of the caretakers. The wardens at the elephant orphanage took the time to passionately explain their work, and I found myself learning far more than I did at the Giraffe Center. In particular, the English speakers at the orphanage were exceptionally fluent compared to those at the Giraffe Center.
I think it is possible that most guides at the Giraffe Center were interns and not expert wardens. I highly recommend this Elephant rescue center over Giraffe Center.
Unfortunately, you can volunteer at this elephant orphanage
Alternatively, you can purchase items from their online shop such as t-shirts, mugs, and books. All proceeds raised are used directly to support the Trust’s vital conservation work.
Regrettably, the trust does not accept volunteers. According to their website, caring for orphans is a long-term commitment. The dedicated keepers serve as their temporary family, providing care for up to 10 years. Involving local Kenyans in the upbringing of these orphans fosters a connection with the species. The keepers then share this crucial conservation message with their families and communities, thereby spreading awareness.
It is important to note that both paid and voluntary work in Kenya by foreigners necessitates a Work Permit. Additionally, venturing into the bush entails inherent dangers, and understandably, the government does not allow foreigners to be exposed to such risks without armed escort.
How can I reach David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust?
The Trust has offices in Kenya, UK, and in the US. Below are the phone numbers for the respective countries;
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
P.O. Box 15555
Phone; +254 (0) 202 301 396 | +254 (0) 111 044 200;
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
3 Bridge Street
Phone: +44 (0)1372 378 321;
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust USA
25283 Cabot Road
Phone: +1 (949) 305-3785;
If you are visiting Kenya and want this Elephant Trust to be part of your experience, we can help you plan and get you there. Simply fill the form alongside and specify you’d like to visit this Center.