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Saving Orphans
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust raises orphan elephants from across Kenya in stages that mirror maternal care in the wild. Most were orphaned by poachers or by farmers protecting crops. Many were separated from their families after falling into wells dug for livestock. Even as Kenya's decimated elephant numbers rise, a growing human population means that problems of sharing land will persist.
Stages of Orphan Care
Nairobi nursery
Milk-dependent orphans are fed by keepers who are in physical contact with them 24 hours a day.
Rehabilitation centers
Usually by age two, orphans are moved to Tsavo, where keepers slowly expose them to the bush.
Back to the wild
An orphan chooses when to join one of the park's elephant families, a transition that may take as long as eight to ten years.
VIRGINIA W. MASON AND LISA R. RITTER, NGM STAFF
SOURCES: DAVID SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST; IAIN DOUGLAS-HAMILTON, SAVE THE ELEPHANTS; PATRICK OMONDI, KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE; AFRICAN ELEPHANT STATUS REPORT 2007, IUCN; WORLD DATABASE ON PROTECTED AREAS; FAO AFRICOVER