I am such a passionate rhino & elephant conservationist and if you have been following my blog, in my previous post #JoinTheHerd, I pledged to inform and educate people about protection and conservation of wildlife through my blog and social media platforms.
Honoring that pledge, here is one place I highly recommend you visit and that I strongly believe it’s worth your support – The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, in honour of the memory of her late husband, famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE, the DSWT claims a rich and deeply rooted family history in wildlife and conservation.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is located in the outskirt of Nairobi city and found inside the Nairobi National park. It can be accessed through the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Central workshop gate off Magadi – Rongai Rd. They have 2 visiting sessions in a day: First session is from 11am -12 noon which is usually the main visiting time for the public (charges are KES 500 per person from ages 4 years upwards). The second session is from 5pm – 6pm which is scheduled for foster parents – those who have adopted or are considering fostering.
Unlike, the 11am -12 noon visiting slot where you can just show up, the other visiting hour (that is, the 5pm-6pm) one has to call the Trust and book a slot.
I stopped over during foster time (5pm – 6pm). The Rongai – Magadi road is quite busy with just a single lane, hence it is better you start your journey 2 hours before or else you will miss your visiting slot.
CHECKING – IN
At the KWS Central workshop main gate, I was welcomed warmly by a cheerful security lady who then advised me how to get to DSWT from there. From the main gate to DSWT is around 2 or 3 kilometers; the road is tarmacked and has clear marked signs.
The scenery is nothing short of amazing -I loved the green surrounding, the sun piercing through the trees and the cool breeze .
I arrived at DSWT and checked in with the supervisor who looked really happy to welcome me.
Since I arrived early, I took time to relax and enjoy DSWT’s breathtaking surrounding. Other people were also turning up and I could tell they were avid to tour the site like I did. At 5pm, we were all gathered and escorted inside to a viewing area.
Edwin, the Head Keeper then gave us a brief about DSWT and their work.
BELOW IS A SUMMARY OF THE TALK:
- The Trust’s mission is to conserve, preserve and protect wildlife.
- The mothers of the rescued elephants and rhinos mainly die from either starvation, old age, poaching or even from micro-diseases.
- DSWT hand-raises and rehabilitates the elephants and rhinos back into the wild.
- From when the orphaned elephants or rhinos are rescued to the time they are re-introduced back into the wild, it may take around 5- 10 years.
- They have dedicated local keepers who take care of elephants from the time they are rescued to the time they re-introduced back into the wild.
- DSWT is one of the front-runners of anti-poaching in Kenya.
- They fund and operate 8 anti-poaching teams and work closely with Kenya Wildlife Service.
- In addition, the Trust has five aircrafts including a Super Cubs, a Top Cub, a Cessna 185 and an MD500 Helicopter – mainly used for aerial surveillance, emergency response and wildlife aerial counts.
- The Trust is involved in conservation management mainly to reduce animal-human conflict. Therefore, they continuously erect electrical fences and build boreholes & windmills in the Tsavo National Park.
- DSWT funds and operates four fully equipped mobile veterinary units and a Sky Vet initiative headed by KWS vets (Over 1,500 wild elephants and other species have been saved through this initiative).
- DSWT is actively involved within their community -they fund over 75 field trips each year for more than 2,000 children to Tsavo National park. They also support schools near Tsavo National Park by donating books, desks & chairs, teaching, sport equipment and offer free medical check-up and show conservation films.
- The Trust is also involved in protecting bio-diversity areas such as Kibwezi forest; Lamu Archipelago and its inland coastal belt; and The Peregrine conservation area (that is, the wildlife habitat bordering Tsavo East National Park).
- DSWT funds 3 Eco camps – New Ithumba hill camp & Ithumba camp in North Tsavo East ; and Umani springs in the Kibwezi forest. All proceeds are ploughed back to support & protect wildlife and the natural habitat.
- Latly, the Trust has rehabilitation centres in Voi, Ithumba and the Kibwezi forest.
AFTER THE BRIEF TALK
A herd of elephants escorted by their handlers matched and others walking really fast,obviously a bit shy, passed by. It was time for them to get into their cubicles, feed and sleep after staying all day in the open field. Seeing some elephants heading to their cubicles without their handlers assistance, was definitely the highlight of my visit.
When the elephants were all in their cubicles, we had the opportunity to see them feed and the young ones wrapped with blankets ready to sleep.
Well…..enough said! They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” so I will now show you pictures so you have a feel of my experience:
It was amazing to see this sweet baby elephant holding the milk bottle like a pro! Normally, it’s quite a challenge for them hence they’re assisted by their handlers. If a baby elephant masters the skill of holding their own bottle then it is seen as a big achievement.
The baby elephants are wrapped with cozy blankets and the handlers sleep with them since they are still scared and traumatized of their loss. Thus in the cubicle, there’s a high-bed for the handler and the elephant sleeps on a straw-homelike bedding, looks really comfortable! The elephants are also served with fresh green bushes as a snack.
It was really nice meeting Max, the black rhino, but at the same time I was sad just knowing his story….. Max was born blind and his mother abandoned him when he was 3 months old leaving the poor fellow vulnerable in the wild. The team at DSWT rescued him and he is now one healthy and happy rhino. They also tried to get his eyes fixed and he actually went for surgery, unfortunately doctors concluded he is genetically blind. Therefore, Max has to stay with DSWT team for the rest of his life because he can’t survive alone. Also, rhinos are very territorial and they have to fight for it from their counterparts. Max, unfortunately he can’t see his opponent so making it difficult for him. One thing I noted, Max likes being touched on his forehead, however, I wasn’t courageous enough to do so. Pay him a visit at DSWT, you will love him!
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) is a MUST see when you are in Nairobi, Kenya. It is absolutely a great place to visit! I have tremendous respect for everyone at DSWT and everything they do to conserve, preserve and protect wildlife.
When you support DSWT, your money certainly goes to a worthy cause – that is, to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned wildlife. Foster parents get an opportunity to visit them everyday from 5pm – 6pm (however, as I mentioned earlier foster parents and those considering fostering, need to call DSWT first and book a slot because they take in a maximum number of people to tour the site). In case you don’t want to foster, you can visit DSWT from 11 – 12pm and pay KES 500.
How can you be part of the DSWT family?
You can donate any amount of money outright OR foster which is a minimum fee of $50 USD per year (You can pay via your credit card and the amount will be automatically converted to your local currency by your credit card company). If you foster, you receive regular updates on their progress and you can visit them. After one year has elapsed, you can decide whether to continue fostering or not.
P.S. Looking for a birthday gift or a general present, why don’t you foster and gift someone? I must say, it can be an excellent surprise!
To find out more about DSWT and how you can be part of the family, check out their:
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thedswt
A special thanks to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for having me. Kudos to the Team! You guys work tirelessly and I’m truly humbled. Wildlife are indeed worth alive and it is through your incredible work, our children’s children will get to see these majestic animals. Keep up the good work! I will continue to support your work.
Well, that’s it guys! Did you enjoy the post? I hope I have convinced you enough to visit and most importantly support DSWT. I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment below. Thank you. xx
– Photography by Antony Trivet –
Please note Sly The Globetrotter retains 100% editorial control and all opinions, as always, are my own.