A long gray trunk with wiry hair wraps around my wrist and tugs the hay and my hand closer to a hungry mouth. Brown eyes surrounded by a thick fringe of black blink at me curiously. “Will you feed me or just smile?” they seem to question. The trunk finally rescues the hay from my clenched fingers. The baby seems to hum in delight as the golden stalks disappear into his hungry little mouth. Velvety ears flop back and forth and Ngilai the little elephant huffs and swats his trunk at me. This is the story of how I lost my heart in Kenya . . .
How I met the love of my life…ever thought of adopting an orphaned baby elephant? This little guy is my adopted Joto. After visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust I knew I would be taking the memory of this baby home with me. Joto was discovered by a farmer herding his cattle after he had fallen down a water well. As beautiful and adorable as these babies are it's a very sobering realization that each are orphans. I can't wait to watch my Joto grow up knowing that he is safe in the hands of people who love him and want nothing but the best ❤#dswt #dswtfosterparents
The beginning of this story starts with a dirt road, a long walk past hay and leaf filled enclosures that opens into a forest of trees, and a well travelled dirt path. The men in green speak. Orphans is the word we hear. Orphaned, alone, and lost are words that by themselves conjure images of loneliness. But when put into a sentence with the purpose of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust behind them they become words of hope, strength, and courage.
Words meant to inspire.
A hush falls over the crow at the tiny trumpet in the distance and our heads turn as one. A rustle through the leaves and a tiny body emerges leading a train of hungry babies. As they rush past I am filled with hope for these little beings. They carry such a large weight upon such fragile shoulders. This is the future of their herd and it is our duty to make sure they are safe enough to one day return to their homes.
Unlike the so called ‘sanctuaries’ in countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a successful history of having reintroduced over 150 orphaned elephants back into their natural habitat.
The nucleus of the DSWT is the Orphans’ Project which sees to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants and rhinos throughout Kenya. Through their hard work and charitable donations they seek to end the threats these endangered animals face on a daily basis.
There are so many babies and I was overwhelmed trying to pick just one to adopt. Luckily my Mother waved me over to a ranger she was speaking to and introduced me to Javan and his charge, Joto.
At the sound of his name he lifted his trunk up and seemed to grumble as if we had interrupted his mission to steal leaves from his fellow baby next door.
You will receive a folder including a certificate, information about your baby , and a monthly update by email from the Ranger who raises the babies. This journal includes the daily ongoings of your adopted baby as well as photos and interactions.
There are two options when visiting the DSWT, a public viewing and the foster parent viewing. For $7usd you can visiting the babies during their feeding time from 11am to Noon with the general public. As a foster parent you can also contact the DSWT via email to arrange a booking (which must be done in advance) to visit the babies as they return to the stockade for a night time feeding before sleep which takes place everyday at 5pm.
As it is with all great adventures my part in this story must have an ending. Even though my role is finished I am grateful to know that the DSWT will continue rescuing and reintroducing orphaned elephants and other endangered animals back into the wild. I am happy to know that I have played a small part in helping their mission which is to embrace all measures that compliment the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife.
Please consider becoming a foster parent today.