Today I wanted to share the most wonderful of things with you. Baby elephants. On my recent trip to Africa, I spent time on the Madikwe Nature Reserve between Botswana and South Africa, right on the edge of the Kalahari desert. Seeing elephants in the wild fulfilled a life-long dream of mine and made my heart almost burst with joy.
Seeing elephants roam about, interacting in their gentle manner re-ignited my desire to raise awareness for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. The DSWT runs an elephant nursery, rehabilitating orphaned ele's and eventually rereleasing them to the wild. Reintroduction is an arduous task that takes the dedicated caretakers YEARS of time, heaps of specially formulated milk and lots of loving care. One of the reasons the orphanage is so important is that an elephant's stages of life mirror that of a humans — infancy, adolescence and adulthood — baby ele's cannot fend for themselves for the first 3-5 years of their lives. So, if a matriarch is poached for her tusks while she has a baby, not only do you lose the mother, but the baby as well.
Right now, South Africa is fairly lucky when it comes to elephant populations (if you can call it that). I was fortunate enough to see herds of elephants and multiple baby ele's roaming the reserve during our three days on safari. However, in other parts of Africa, such as Kenya, elephants are being poached at rates that will leave NO elephants in the wild by 2010. In just the last year alone over 100,000 elephants were poached for their tusks, a truly heartbreaking statistic.
This year for the holidays I received the sweet gift of a donation in my name to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Some day I will visit Kenya and the DSWT elephant nursery in person, and meet my adopted infant elephant, Jasiri. If you are interested in learning more about donation or raising awareness for elephant poaching, there are many ways to help:
Stop the Trade
The first and foremost is stopping the trade and sale of ivory. Take away the market and you take away the demand. Stop wearing it, stop buying it, stop collecting it.
The second is education. Do your research and tell people about what is happening. Social media is a powerful tool, but word of mouth can sometimes leave a more lasting impression.
Travel To Africa
The next is travel. Literally going to the countries to see the wildlife supports the tourism industry and supplies jobs for those that could otherwise fall into the practice of poaching. Plus you will return a loyal advocate for the animals ready to share your experience.
And finally, support the brands and companies that support wildlife and habitat conservation. I love these elephant friendly products from J.Crew, and the proceeds benefit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. You can also adopt an elephant living at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust nursery.