Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

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Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust logo.jpg
FounderDaphne Sheldrick
FocusElephant conservation
Area served
East Africa
MethodWork together to save elephants from being extinct
Angela Sheldrick

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates an orphan elephant rescue and wildlife rehabilitation program in Kenya. It was founded in 1977 by Dame Daphne Sheldrick to honor her late husband, David Sheldrick. Since 2001, it has been run by their daughter, Angela Sheldrick.


“The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that complement 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.”[1]

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust works closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Forest Service and local communities to achieve their long term goal to secure safe havens for wildlife, through the effective management and protection of key ecosystems and wilderness areas in Kenya.


For over 25 years Kenya-born Daphne Sheldrick lived and worked alongside her husband, David Sheldrick, MBE, a naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park. Throughout this time, they raised and successfully rehabilitated many wild animal species. Daphne Sheldrick’s involvement with wildlife also spanned a lifetime, and she was a recognized international authority on the rearing of wild creatures. She was the first person to have perfected the milk formula and necessary husbandry for infant milk-dependent elephants, discovering that coconut oil was the nearest substitute for the fat in elephant milk. [2].

After the death of her husband in 1977, Daphne and her family lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park, continuing David's legacy of conservation. In 1987, the David Sheldrick Memorial Appeal, a part of the African Wildlife Project, metamorphosed into the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; becoming an independent non-profit organization.[3]

The organization re-branded their name and logo on February 1, 2019, changing their name from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in order to honor both David and Daphne Sheldrick.[4]

The number one long-term achievement of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is their success with raising orphaned baby elephants and integrating them back in the wild. The Trust is a leader in conservation efforts to help save the remaining African elephant populations in grave danger from the illegal ivory trade. [5]

Foster program[edit]

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates a digital foster program which allows individuals across the world to support their field projects by fostering an orphaned elephant, rhino or giraffe in their care for themselves or as a gift. For a suggested donation of $50 per orphan per year, individuals receive via email: a personalised certificate, an interactive map, monthly update on the progress of their orphan and a watercolour by CEO Angela Sheldrick.[6]

All elephant, rhino and giraffe orphans rescued by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are available to foster, including those orphans living back in the wild, and proceeds benefit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s conservation projects.


The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Elephant Orphanage is located in Nairobi National Park, Kenya and is open to the public for one hour every day, excluding 25 December, from 11 am to noon. During this time the orphans arrive for their midday mud bath and feeding. Entrance to the orphanage for the visiting hour requires minimum contribution of $7 US dollars / 500 Kenya shillings per person. A gift shop is on site and visitors can also set up a fostering during their visit.[7]

Conservation projects[edit]

Ivory Orphans of Kenya 2013 (14908373285).jpg

Orphans project[edit]

On call every day of the year, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust travels throughout Kenya to rescue orphaned elephants and rhinos left alone with no hope of survival. Many of the orphans rescued are victims of poaching and human-wildlife conflict and are in a terrible state of emaciation and distress.[8]

After each orphan rescue, the long and complex process of rehabilitation begins at the DSWT’s Nursery nestled within the Nairobi National Park. For milk-dependent elephant calves it is here, during this crucial phase, where they are cared for and healed both emotionally and physically by the DSWT’s dedicated team of elephant Keepers who take on the role and responsibility of becoming each orphan’s adopted family during their rehabilitation.[9]

Each elephant remains at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Nursery in Nairobi National Park until they are ready to make the journey to one of three rehabilitation stockades at Voi or Ithumba in Tsavo East National Park , or at their Umani Springs Reintegration Unit. This second phase of rehabilitation can span a period of up to ten years as the orphaned elephants gradually transition back into the wild herds of Tsavo, taken at a pace determined by each individual elephant.

To date, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully hand-raised over 200 infant elephants and reintegrated over 100 orphaned elephants back into the wild herds of Tsavo National Park. More than 25 wild born calves have been born to orphaned elephants raised in their care, living back in the wild.

Anti-poaching teams[edit]

To combat ivory, bushmeat and rhino horn poaching, which are devastating wildlife populations, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates fully equipped Anti-Poaching Units in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS[10]). By March 2017, the DSWT/KWS Units had made more than 2,800 arrests and removed in excess of 140,000 snares.

Ten Units protect the greater Tsavo Conservation Area covering a vast 60,000km2, whilst one fully mobile unit is operating throughout the country where it is needed the most. These fully trained frontline teams, accompanied by armed KWS Rangers, are equipped with vehicles, camping equipment, radios, GPS units and cameras, patrolling daily to combat elephant and rhino poaching as well as the threat of bushmeat snaring.[11]

Supporting these vital ground teams is a Rapid Response Anti-Poaching Unit operated by armed KWS rangers selected from the Service’s top field recruits.

Canine Unit[edit]

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates a specialist Canine Unit with three Belgian Malinois who have been trained to track and detect illegal wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn and bush meat as well as guns and ammunition.[12] The three canines are deployed to support the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s anti-poaching efforts and are accompanied by six fully trained handlers.

Aerial surveillance[edit]

Supporting the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s ground efforts is an Aerial Unit, which includes six aircraft and a helicopter, all of which are active in the field throughout the Tsavo ecosystem as well as within the Lamu District. Daily, the Aerial Unit takes part in security patrols and provides support to search and veterinary intervention for injured elephants and wildlife, as well as search and rescue operations for orphaned elephant calves and wildlife emergencies.[10]

Aerial reconnaissance is a vital tool in the effective prevention of illegal activities and the DSWT’s combination of active ground teams and an ‘eye in the sky’ have resulted in many successes in preventing poaching attacks, apprehending poaching offenders and recovering tusks, whilst saving the lives of many injured elephants and other wildlife species due to poaching incidents.[13]

Mobile Veterinary Units[edit]

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates four fully equipped Mobile Veterinary Units and a Sky Vet initiative headed by Kenya Wildlife Service Vets to alleviate the suffering of injured wild animals. All four units are equipped with custom-made vehicles, darting hatches, equipment shelves, a fridge, an operating table and necessary medicines and equipment required for rapid and effective veterinary response to any cases.

The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit based at the KWS Voi Headquarters, covers an extensive area including the greater Tsavo Conservation Area as well as the Chyulu Hills National Park and the Shimba Hills National Reserve.[14]

The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit covers the Masai Mara National Reserve, the adjacent Mara Triangle, neighbouring community areas, as well as the Lake Naivasha and Nakuru areas within the Rift Valley; when needed the unit also operates as far West as Ruma National Park and Lake Victoria.[15]

The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit operates out of Meru National Park and provides permanent veterinary support to the larger Meru ecosystem consisting of Meru National Park, Bisanadi National Park and Kora National Reserve, including all wildlife dispersal areas around the Eastern Conservation Area, whilst also extending its services into additional parks and reserves in the Northern Conservation Area.[16]

The Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit operates out of Amboseli National Park and services the Southern Conservation Area encompassing Kajiado, Namanga, Magadi, Lake Natron as well as the Southern Tsavo West area including Lake Jipe, an ecosystem famous for large number of elephants.[17]

The Sky Vet initiative funds and coordinates the deployment of KWS vets to emergency wildlife cases throughout Kenya by air and is a vital addition to the DSWT’s veterinary program. Between Sky Vets and the four units over 1,500 wild elephants have been assisted and the lives of countless other species have been saved.[18]


With agriculture and human settlement encroaching into wildlife habitats, disrupting migratory routes and protected boundaries, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been erecting and maintaining hundreds of kilometres of fencelines to limit this growing conflict over natural resources.[19]

Water provision for wildlife[edit]

With limited rainfall in the arid Tsavo Conservation Area, which in recent years has shown a drastic decline, arid areas such as Tsavo and Lamu are first to suffer from prolonged drought. To address this threat to the wildlife within these habitats, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has built 14 boreholes and windmills to enhance the dry season productivity, as well as instigating temporary water-relief programs to relieve suffering.[20]

Saving habitats[edit]

By securing Public-Private Partnerships with the Kenya Forest Service and Community Group Ranches, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is safeguarding unique and endangered wild habitats.

Tsavo Conservation Area[edit]

The Trust owns 4,000 acres of land adjoining the Tsavo East National Park. This land, known as the Peregrine Conservation Area, is prime wildlife habitat and also serves as the DSWT field headquarters, providing support for all of the Trust’s Tsavo-based projects.

Kibwezi Forest[edit]

In partnership with the Kenya Forest Service, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has embarked on conserving and sustaining the environment in the Kibwezi Forest.

The Kibwezi Forest, one of Kenya’s last remaining groundwater woodlands, is a unique ecosystem bordering the Chyulu Hills National Park and an exceptional biodiversity hotspot providing a habitat for a number of wildlife species, including the African elephant as well as an impressive collection of rare and endemic mammals, birds, reptiles, butterflies, invertebrates and fish.[21]

Conservation and protection programs in the area include natural resource management, anti-poaching patrols as well as the construction and maintenance of electrically fenced boundaries, ensuring the steady rehabilitation of the area whilst safeguarding the local communities and their livelihoods from wildlife damage. Other conservation activities taking place within the Kibwezi Forest include the monitoring of water extraction, fire control, invasive species control and key habitat and endangered species management, whilst providing benefits to the local communities through sustainable resource utilisation, education and tourism.[10]

Community outreach[edit]

For more than 15 years, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has operated a community outreach project, working to improve the livelihoods and educational standards of people living along the borders of Kenya’s National Parks and protected areas through the introduction of community initiatives and local employment.[22]

Their initiatives include:

- Free field trips throughout the year into Tsavo East and West National Parks for schools living on the Parks borders.

- Tree Planting Programs. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has developed three mature tree nurseries, producing thousands of saplings, which are distributed to local communities and schools, encouraging families and children to plant, nurture and protect their trees and forested areas to instil a better understanding of the value of their natural resources.

- Wildlife Film showings to local communities.[19]

- Beehive fence lines. Since 2015, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been working with local communities inhabiting the north-western border of Tsavo East, to erect a 2.6 km long elephant-beehive fence with 131 beehives on seven forefront farms bordering the park.[23]

- Funding of local radio programs in a variety of local languages, which promote wildlife education and feature DSWT field members speaking about their work and experiences.[22]


  1. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "About The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: A Haven for Elephants and Rhinos". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  2. ^ Sheldrick, Daphne (2012). Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-374-10457-3.
  3. ^ Sheldrick, Daphne (2012). Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-374-10457-3.
  4. ^ "Unveiling our new logo". Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. February 1, 2019. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  5. ^ Ulrich-Verderber, Liesl (July 21, 2019). [ "Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphaned Elephants"] Check |url= value (help). Ever Widening Circles.
  6. ^ Trust, David Sheldrick Wildlife. "Adopt an Elephant Orphan - David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  7. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - FAQ". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  8. ^ "DSWT Overview Brochure". issuu. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  9. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "Raising Elephant Orphans". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  10. ^ a b c "DSWT Overview Brochure". issuu. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  11. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: Antipoaching". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  12. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Updates". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  13. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "Aerial Surveillance in Kenya - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  14. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The Mobile Veterinary Unit in Kenya - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  15. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The Mobile Veterinary Unit in Kenya - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  16. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The Mobile Veterinary Unit in Kenya - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  17. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The Mobile Veterinary Unit in Kenya - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  18. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "Sky Vets - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  19. ^ a b Inc., Elehost Web Design. "2016 Newsletter - The David Sheldrick Wildlife trust". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  20. ^ "The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - World Water Day". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  21. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "Elephants and Rhino Conservation". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  22. ^ a b Inc., Elehost Web Design. ""The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: A Haven for Elephants and Rhinos"". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  23. ^ Inc., Elehost Web Design. "The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Updates". Retrieved 2017-03-31.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]