Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Watch baby elephants and support a great cause at the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi.

When I traveled to Kenya, I volunteered at a wildlife conservancy. One of my duties was participating in anti-poaching efforts at the preserve. While I didn’t see or confront any animal poachers, there was so much evidence of poaching in Kenya. We manually removed hundreds of wire snares from the conservancy grounds. Our small group combed regions of land by foot, seeking out curved pieces of metal. The snares were often made from old bits of wire fencing.  Bent into loops, they trap the feet and legs of animals as they roamed by. After the animal becomes trapped and falls to the ground, the poacher moves in and claims his keep.

Every time we searched, we’d return with armfuls of metal and wire loops. With every snare we recovered, one animal’s life was potentially saved.

Poachers notoriously target elephants for their ivory. Other problems that threaten both elephants and rhinos in Kenya include loss of habitat, drought, and deforestation.

Thankfully, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust aims to conserve and protect wildlife and their habitats in Kenya. Founded by Dame Daphne Sheldrick and named after her late husband, the DSWT is one of the most successful rescue and rehabilitation centers for orphaned elephants in the world.

Their mission statement:

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that compliment the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safe guarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.

I recently started reading Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s memoir, Love, Life and Elephants, and I highly recommend checking out this book if you’re interested in Africa, animals, or wildlife conservation efforts.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

THE ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE

When a baby elephant is rescued, it usually means that their mother and father have been killed. Generally, the parents are killed for their ivory by poachers. Baby elephants depend on their mother’s milk for two years after they are born. An orphaned elephant will not survive in the wild. 

Daphne Sheldrick spent thirty years perfecting a suitable elephant formula and the proper methods of raising orphaned elephants so they can be released back into the wild. To date, the DSWT has rescued and released over 150 elephant calves that would not have survived otherwise.

The DSWT’s field work is based in Tsavo East National Park. The orphaned elephants, when they are old enough, are introduced and accepted into the wild herds that live there. There are extensive details on the DSWT website about raising elephant orphans if you’re interested in learning more details.

You can also learn about every elephant’s story, including tales of their rescue. Some of the stories are truly heartbreaking. Many elephants are found with snare wounds or even standing beside their dying mothers.

Interested in learning more about responsible wildlife tourism? Check out the attractions you should always avoid and what to do instead with this handy guide!

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

MY VISIT TO THE ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE

I was beyond excited to visit the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi. On the last day of my volunteer expedition with Animal Experience International, we were treated to a visit there before flying back home.

Members of the public can visit the Elephant Orphanage between 11am and 12pm daily (except on December 25th). The entrance fee of 500 Kenyan shillings (about $5 USD) directly benefits the elephants. There’s also a small gift shop on site with all proceeds going to the DSWT. For $50 (or more) a year, you can sponsor an elephant and receive updates about your adopted elephant.

A trip to the elephant nursery is something you must do when you travel to Nairobi. During your visit, you’ll see the baby elephants arrive for their midday feeding and mud bath.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

AWAITING THEIR ARRIVAL

In a large, circular arena behind a thin piece of rope, we patiently awaited the arrival of the orphan elephants. Some warthogs crashed the party, briefly stealing the spotlight. From the bush off in the distance, elephant after elephant materialized from the tall grass. These tiny elephants romped across the dirt towards their feeding grounds. I could feel the collective excitement of the visitors in the air.

These infant elephants were so carefree and joyous. One after another, they bounded and leaped in our direction. I couldn’t tell who was more excited – us or them. I giggled and marveled at how cute they were. They were excited to eat and play.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

FEEDING TIME

The first order of business was drinking milk. The elephants were hungry for a meal. The elephant caretakers held bottles of milk for the infants. In some cases, the elephants were skilled enough to drink from the bottles themselves without any additional help. There were large buckets of water stationed throughout the circular feeding area where we watched them drink.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

At one point, some ostriches appeared on the scene and decided to drink some of the water. The baby elephants didn’t mind sharing!

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

PLAYFUL ELEPHANTS

Initially, the very young nursery elephants came out to eat and play in the mud. Next, some of the older infants pranced out for food and mud baths. It was so interesting to watch these adorable animals bathe, drink, and roll around. They would pick up things like twigs and sticks and parade them around.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

The elephants tossed dust into the air and covered themselves with mud. This was an attempt to stay cool under the hot, African sun. They also played around with the other elephants in the muddy water.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Some of the elephants were a bit cheeky. One elephant kept head-butting another one repeatedly, playing around with him. The baby elephants rolled around in the mud together, even climbing on top of one another. It was almost like they were kids, wrestling around.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

If the elephants come over to you, you can pet them and touch them. Be prepared to get a little bit dirty! The elephants can be pretty muddy.

Lots of groups of school children were visiting on field trips. It’s important that the children of Kenya become interested in wildlife protection and preservation.

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

THE VERDICT

Would I recommend that you visit the Elephant Orphanage of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust? Absolutely I would! Not only are you supporting such an amazing organization and elephant sanctuary, but you get to see baby elephants up close. You’ll fall in love. I did!

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi, Kenya

GETTING THERE

David Sheldrick Wildife Trust’s Elephant Orphanage is on the edge of Nairobi National Park. You can get there by car or taxi.

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David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage -1.376830, 36.774100 Elephant Orphanage in NairobiDavid Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Kajiado, Kenya (Directions)

 

Want to see more photos from the Elephant Orphanage Nairobi? Check out my travel photo album from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage!

 

Visiting the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya

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Have you ever visited an animal sanctuary or rehabilitation center? Tell me about it!

12 Responses

  1. Rhonda Albom
    | Reply

    Wow. What an experience. The elephant photos (and the ostriches) are beyond adorable, but the power in what you were doing is really impressive. How sad what goes on. I am glad you didn’t see any actual poachers, but all that wire must have been heartbreaking. At least you can feel good about saving some elephants.
    Rhonda Albom recently posted…Obidos Portugal: A Charming Medieval Town with a Padlocked EntranceMy Profile

  2. Sara | Belly Rumbless
    | Reply

    What a wonderful way to spend your last day volunteering, a visit to an elephant orphanage Nairobi. Love your photos and I must say I am a little jealous of your experience. The baby elephants look so adorable. I wouldn’t have an issue getting muddy in exchange for a pat if approached by one of these gorgeous guys.

  3. Claire
    | Reply

    I’ve always wanted to volunteer at an elephant orphanage. I’ve only ever looked at doing it in Asia though. Maybe I should consider Kenya. I would love to visit Kenya too. Thanks for highlighting an elephant orphanage outside of Asia
    Claire recently posted…Northern Lights Chasing with Aurora HolidaysMy Profile

  4. Dave
    | Reply

    I had no idea that the poachers would target the elephants by leaving these metal objects. It is good that there are so many volunteers that save so many elephants each year and especially the babies. I would love to visit.
    Dave recently posted…Athens Walking Tours – Sightseeing Tours in AthensMy Profile

  5. Laura Lynch
    | Reply

    What a great cause to get involved in. I can believe it, but don’t want to believe there are people in this world that would want to kill those beautiful creatures for the ivory. It’s sad. At least there’s an organization that wants to care for the poor left behind babies.

  6. Travelwith2ofus
    | Reply

    It’s good news like this which give humanity a spark of hope. The folks at the Elephant Orphanage definitely deserves to be recognized for the great work they are doing with these orphan elephants. I love your photos, unfortunately I have never been that close to an elephant. I know it’s sad right!
    Travelwith2ofus recently posted…Explore Lisbon for free and save big timeMy Profile

  7. Elisa
    | Reply

    What a nice experience! I also would love to see these baby elephants also by myself. That said,it is a shame all these hunters still exist, is there anything else they could do, apart from retiring the traps? Maybe other laws or more surveillance?

  8. stacey veikalas
    | Reply

    They are so cute I want to take them home! What a great organization! I would love to visit! It is so sad that they are still killing these amazing animals but I am super glad theses little guys have a place to go!
    stacey veikalas recently posted…How to Celebrate Easter in GermanyMy Profile

  9. Anneklien Meanne
    | Reply

    Aww those baby elephants are so cute, i would love to volunteer to this kind of places too maybe when i get to Asia.

  10. Jennifer
    | Reply

    It’s great that they release them back to the wild, if I understood correctly. My question, though, is what kind of impact does that human interaction have on them once they go back to the wild. Since they are used to people being around, would they more easily come around poachers?

    Human intervention is always so tricky.
    Jennifer recently posted…Bordeaux in 365 Bottles: March 2017My Profile

  11. Nisha
    | Reply

    What a great cause to get involved in. I have volunteered but only with humans. 🙂 Till now haven’t done anything with animals. Thanks for sharing these details. Poaching is the biggest enemy of these animals. Glad that you could save their lives.

  12. Chris
    | Reply

    I had no idea that such an orphanage existed in Kenya. Congratulations to that organization.
    Chris recently posted…Waterfalls in Greece: Nemouta Waterfalls, Erimanthos MountainMy Profile

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