The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
First known as the Orphan’s Project, SWT was established over 40 years ago and is the most successful elephant orphan rescue program in the world. Part of their efforts have included leading conservation to protect wildlife and preserve habitats in East Africa. This includes the diverse flora and fauna ever impacted by human activity, and additional wildlife conservation efforts for black and white rhinos.
The adoption program helps raise, rehabilitate, and otherwise care for animals too young to be independent (usually under three years of age). Animals who reach three years of age are then transitioned to a reintegration unit. SWT’s efforts include three reintegration units, two in Tsavo East National Park and the third in Kibwezi Forest – Chyulu Hills National Park. Each area is a fully protected area and have patrols by den-snaring teams and aerial surveillance.
In addition to these services, SWT works closely with Kenya Wildlife Service with five mobile veterinary units and sky vets to help injured wild animals across all of Kenya. The variety of habitats and species have included animal patients from elephants, rhinos, and giraffes, to zebras, lions, and wild boar. The injuries seen most often include the following:
- Traps often made out of metal wire, nylon or vegetable fibers, known as snares, can cause severe injuries, suffering and pain to trapped animals.
- Poachers use arrows, which are usually laced with poison, to obtain ivory, teeth, or fur; however, if the arrow doesn’t full penetrate, the animal suffers prolonged suffering, sepsis and ultimately, death.
- Poachers and those trying to get animals away from their lands also use spears, which can cause deep wounds. These wounds often become infected, leading to sepsis.
- Natural territorial fight injuries may cause lameness, affecting an animal’s ability to effectively hunt or feed.
Along with these programs, SWT has additional efforts focused on community outreach, water for wildlife, anti-poaching, and Eco Lodges. While each have a variety of influences on bettering wildlife’s success, the Eco Lodges are one of the ways to become immersed in the habitat while contributing to SWT. This sustainable tourism opportunity has a range of options from safari-style camps to a private venue.
SWT’s efforts have proven that when ‘keystone’ species like elephants, giraffes, and rhinos are protected, then the diversity and long-term survival of many species are protected. If you’d like more information on SWT, or an opportunity to adopt an orphan of the jungle or donate in a variety of ways, visit their website at sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/.