Poaching of elephants for their tusks remains a huge problem in Africa. In itself, the killing of such majestic animals is a crime and a tragedy, but what makes matters even worse is the fact that often, once the poachers have murdered a mature female elephant, a baby elephant is left an orphan and its chances for survival are very low.
Thankfully, there are rescue centers throughout Africa, which care for baby elephant orphans and one of them is run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi National Park in Kenya. To date, the orphanage has rescued and raised 101 baby elephants.
Many of the orphans have experienced the trauma of witnessing the killing of their mothers by poachers or by angry farmers. Others, like baby Ndotto, were rescued after getting disoriented and mixed up with livestock that is owned by native Samburu herders and then following them home to their village.
Fortunately, and despite their traumatic experiences, the orphaned elephants you will see in the images below, are now just as happy and playful as we could hope them to be. The photos were released to mark World Elephant Day and show that each member of the family has his or her own personality, just like us. As Rob Brandford, director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, puts it:
Each orphan has their own tragic rescue story, but their struggle of survival and zest for life is infectious.
Yes, it is and I am so glad to see these baby elephants doing so well! (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Baby elephant Kamok peeps out at the camera from beneath her comfort blanket. The youngest elephants have blankets to remind them of their mothers.
2. Baby Kauro flops out on the ground as she prepares to take a break. The youngest orphans often take naps throughout the day.
3. A pair of adorable baby elephants conk out in their mud pool during a day of play at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Nairobi nursery.
4. Ashaka, Kamok, Kauro and Mbegu are taken out into the bush in Nairobi National Park for a day of play with their human surrogate parents.
5. Baby Ashaka is given a lesson in how her trunk works. Adult elephants would usually do this but for orphans like Ashaka, humans have to step in.
6. Tiny orphaned elephant calf Ashaka learns some fancy footwork courtesy of a football in the nursery at Nairobi National Park in Kenya.
7. Ashaka and Kamok cuddle up in the sand under the watchful eye of their surrogate parents at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust nursery in Nairobi National Park.
8. One of the youngest elephants at the orphanage snuggles up to his keeper. The smallest orphans often seek comfort this way.
9. Baby Ashaka (left) fends off an attempt to pinch her stick.
10. Little Kamok hasn’t quite got the hang of walking downhill.
11. Baby elephant Kudup hasn’t quite got the hang of using his trunk to drink and ends up with his face in the mud.
12. Baby elephants Lemoyian, Arruba and Barsilinga indulge in a very muddy game of football in Nairobi National Park.
13. Baby Mbegu (left) stands with her friend Kauro. She was rescued from a horde of angry villagers by a group of rangers who protected her.
14. Little Tundani is one of the smallest elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Nairobi National Park orphanage.
15. Suguta, Kibo and Nchan like to spend their days playing together and will eventually live as a herd in Tsavo National Park when they grow up.
16. Older orphans at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Ithumba orphanage get a lesson on how to live life in the wild.
17. Playful Sities attempts to lever her somnolent friend Kainuk out of a muddy pool for a game but without success.
18. Adorable baby elephants Naipoki and Mutara indulge in a spot of heavyweight wrestling during playtime in the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Nairobi nursery.
19. Naipoki, Vuria and Kihari indulge in some mutual back scratching as the relax in the beautiful Nairobi National Park in Kenya.
20. Adorable little orphaned elephant Rorogoi takes care of an itch with the help of a conveniently placed tree in Nairobi National Park.
21. Little orphan elephant Orwa scratches an itch on a convenient tree during a relaxed moment in Nairobi National Park.
And here is the video:
Source: The Mail Online.
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