The Elephant Project is incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported rescue and rehabilitation work with elephants through the purchase of Kiki, Tembo, t-shirts and onesies. This support has helped to improve and save the lives of many elephants – from babies to elders – who would otherwise continue to suffer or die due to greed, inhumane treatment, competition for resources, and loss of critical habitat.
With your help, The Elephant Project is able to foster a number of orphaned elephants, as well as provide funding to support SWT’s overall work in Kenya.
Meet some of the sweet elephant orphans that we support:
When watering their livestock one morning, villagers came upon a baby elephant who had fallen into a waterhole and was unable to get out. He was found almost completely submerged in dirty water with the end of his trunk sticking out like a snorkel. The calf, who SWT staff believe was already an orphan before his fall, was barely breathing when rescued by the Kenyan Wildlife Service. Rangers pulled his weak, emaciated body out of the water and flew him by helicopter to SWT’s Nursery. As often occurs with starvation victims, Dololo frequently collapsed and regularly required emergency IV fluids during his initially weeks at the facility.
The Nursery team spent many months helping Dololo to gain much-needed weight, increase his strength, and recover from serious eye infections. His health slowly improved and after about nine months of ongoing care, he had recovered his weight, his eyes had healed, and his skin texture had been restored. With his lengthy recovery behind him, Dololo has been able to spend more time with other orphaned calves and has settled in nicely at the Nursery. He was very lucky to have survived, and will be lovingly cared for until he is old enough to reintegrate into a herd in a national park environment.
Ziwa, a two-year-old male calf, was rescued following his mother’s death. After receiving reports of a sick female with a young dependent calf, SWT sent their mobile veterinarian group out to try to treat Ziwa’s mother. Her condition was hard to diagnose, however, and despite the medical care provided, she grew weaker and weaker until she was no longer able to travel with the herd. As the other elephants moved on, her loyal baby boy stayed behind and remained by her side.
A few weeks after the vet visit, SWT received an urgent phone call from a Kenyan Wildlife Service ranger who reported that Ziwa’s mother had collapsed near a watering hole. Ziwa was still by her side, and was reportedly trying to protect her from hungry hyenas that had gathered nearby. SWT immediately sent out a rescue helicopter and veterinarian team to try to save the sick mom and brave baby calf. They found Ziwa’s mom barely alive and sadly, too sick to save. She was euthanized to end her suffering and Ziwa was quickly airlifted to the SWT Nursery. The traumatized little boy was cared for by Nursery staff and, despite his heartbreaking and scary experience, was able to adjust well to his new surroundings. Ziwa has found many new friends at the Nursery where he receives wonderful care in a safe and secure place.
Failed rains and a prolonged drought in portions of Kenya killed over 300 elephants and almost took the life of one-year-old Mapia who was fortunately sighted by Kenyan Wildlife rangers while out patrolling on foot. The rangers initially thought the baby elephant had died, and even when they realized he was still alive, didn’t think he could possibly survive until help arrived. Once notified, however, SWT quickly sent out a team just in case he could be saved. When the team arrived an hour or so later, they quickly loaded him into a Landcruiser and rushed to a nearby airfield where they worked to stabilize him. Due to previous experience with severe drought, SWT teams have become well versed in the life saving procedures needed to revive drought-stricken elephants. Remarkably, his eyes began to open and he became increasingly responsive.
Lewa, a male calf who most likely lost his mother to poachers, was found all alone at a young age. He was taken to the Voi Reintegration Unit, joining a herd comprised of adult females and many other orphaned elephants. With support from The Elephant Project and other generous donors, Lewa lived with the herd for a few years, spending lots of time with his “big brothers” who taught him important behaviors needed for moving on from a matriarchal society. At four years of age, Lewa and two of his male friends were moved to a new location – a lush valley where food, water, and other elephants are plentiful. Although his two friends had some difficulty adjusting to their new environment, Lewa, who is naturally very sociable, was able to easily integrate himself into the park’s wild herds and is now living a full and happy life.
Organizations We Support
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
One of the nonprofit organizations that The Elephant Project supports on an ongoing basis is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT). Founded in Kenya in 1977, SWT was established to protect Africa’s wildlife and to preserve habitats for the future of all wild species. The organization works throughout Kenya and is best known for its incredible work with elephants, including operating the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.
SWT’s principal activities include:
anti-poaching efforts using aerial surveillance teams
providing medical care to wild elephants using mobile veterinary units
rescuing and hand rearing elephant orphans
caring for young and sick elephants for years until they can be reintegrated into wild herds at Kenya’s national parks
safeguarding the natural environment
addressing animal welfare issues
engaging communities and improving livelihoods for local populations
SWT operates numerous branch units throughout the country which include:
The Nairobi Nursery Unit in Nairobi National Park which provides specialist and intensive care for orphaned elephants aged three and under. Trained staff are on hand 24/7 to ensure newly rescued orphaned animals have a secure and loving environment in which to heal and recover.
The Voi, Ithumba, and Umani Springs Reintegration Units in Tsavo East and Chyulu Hills National Parks are home to older dependent orphaned elephants, aged three and over, who are transitioning to a fully independent life in the wild. These units are all based in protected areas managed and patrolled by SWT in collaboration with the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS).
In addition to supporting the rescue and care of elephant orphans directly, The Elephant Project sponsored The Enormous Elephant Run in Los Angeles for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
To learn more about the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and their efforts to save elephants in Kenya please visit their website: www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
Elephant Nature Park
Another amazing elephant rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary that The Elephant Project supports – with your help – is the Elephant Nature Park (ENP) located in northern Thailand. Founded by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, world renowned Asian elephant conservationist and Time Magazine's 2005 Asian Hero of the Year, ENP provides sanctuary for disabled, blind, and orphaned elephants that have often spent decades working in the logging and tourist industries. With over 250 acres of land, dozens of rescued elephants are free to roam, socialize, swim, and enjoy mud baths. Baby elephants, born at ENP, grow up in a secure and loving environment without ever experiencing cruelty or abuse.
ENP’s principal activities include:
rescuing and providing sanctuary for distressed and abused elephants
leading the ethical elephant tourism industry
persuading elephant sanctuaries across Thailand to eliminate harmful riding practices
increasing awareness of the plight of Asian elephants throughout the world
hosting volunteers who come to learn about and assist with elephants
With your help, The Elephant Project has supported ENP by fostering specific elephants, donating towards general operating costs, coordinating and hosting a screening of the movie "Love & Bananas" in Santa Barbara, and organizing a successful fundraiser with special guest Lek Chailert.
To learn more about Elephant Nature Park and their efforts to save elephants in south and southeast Asia, please visit their website: www.elephantnaturepark.org
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
The Elephant Project continues to support The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that provides a natural and protected setting for former zoo and circus elephants in the U.S. At the Sanctuary, the elephants receive extensive individualized care provided by a knowledgeable and devoted team. The existence of this sanctuary helps to enable the release and transfer of elephants, many who had been residing in limited space and without companionship, to a 2,700-acre habitat where they can live in the company of a herd.
To learn more about The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and their efforts to care for elephants that have been retired from zoos and circuses, please visit their website: www.elephants.com