Did you know that countless baby elephants die in Africa because their moms died in the hands of poachers?
It turns out baby elephants are dependent entirely on their mother’s milk for the first 2 years of their lives. Then, it takes two additional years before they are fully weaned.
So, what happens when their mothers die? The sad thing is that when the mothers die, the babies die as well unless they are lucky enough to be found by the right humans who know how to nurture them until they are old enough to live on their own.
In Africa, a husband-and-wife team had worked hand-in-hand to save animals from poachers, not just by adopting the orphaned babies but also educating the locals about the dangers of the ivory trade to the lives of these gentle creatures.
David and Dame Daphne Sheldrick moved in to the Nairobi National Park in 1976 to fully take care of their animal ‘children’. When David died a year later, Dame Daphne continued to work on their shared advocacy, establishing the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for his legacy to live on.
The kindhearted lady also experimented on various combinations to create the best milk for the orphaned elephants to survive. She finally got the right one, with a combination of human infant formula milk with coconut oil and vegetable fat.
Thanks to Dame Daphne’s milk formula, more baby elephants survived. As the babies grew older, they were moved to elephant sanctuary Tsavo National Park. While this is 200 miles away from their first foster home, they have a better chance of living a happy life with the wild elephants at the sanctuary.
But what’s so sweet is that despite living far away, they remember Dame Daphne. When she visits Tsavo National Park or brings a new batch of older orphans, many of her previous ‘babies’ line up to give her a hug. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?