On Wednesday 4th June 2014 the DSWT UK welcomed over 300 people to the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair to attend the exclusive film screening of ‘The Elephant Who Loved Too Much’, celebrating the 80th birthday of Dame Daphne Sheldrick.
Courtesy of the Discovery Channel and Blink Films we were thrilled to premiere this heart-warming film on the big screen, which shares the extraordinary relationship between Dame Daphne Sheldrick and a tiny little milk dependent elephant calf called Aisha, who came into Daphne’s care in 1974.
Prior to the film UK Director Rob Brandford read a note sent from Dame Daphne, back home in Nairobi, to thank all those who were in attendance:
‘I have been totally humbled by the outpouring of love and support on this milestone day, my 80th birthday. I could not wish for a more beautiful day, waking up to that all familiar birdsong and elephant trumpets, surrounded by my loving family both two legged and four, to messages, gifts, and support for the Trust from around the globe. Bless you all, and please accept my heartfelt thanks for making my birthday so memorable. I am extremely touched.’
As the film commenced there were tears of both laughter and sadness as the audience listened to the tale of elephant orphan Aisha, her cheekiness as she vied for Daphne’s attention and the endless love they held for one another. The audience were inspired to hear how Aisha’s remarkable story has since paved the way for the survival of over 160 orphaned elephants.
Following the film we were delighted to welcome Head Keeper of the Ithumba Elephant Reintegration Unit to the stage. Benjamin Kyalo answered questions from the audience in a live Q&A alongside Rob Brandford and BBC presenter and supporter of the DSWT Katy Ashworth, who so kindly and wonderfully played the role of MC.
Questions ranged from Benjamin’s daily routine at Ithumba to the poaching epidemic which is sweeping much of Kenya, to which Benjamin replied, ‘If we stop caring for orphaned elephants then the poachers are winning, we must fight’. The audience were so moved by Benjamin’s courage and devotion to the protection of elephants, which resulted in a lengthy and justified round of applause from the packed theatre.
We would like to thank all those who attended the screening and shared their well wishes online, celebrating all that has been achieved by Dame Daphne Sheldrick and the work of the Trust on her 80th birthday.
We would also like to express considerable thanks to our partners British Airways, for flying Benjamin to the UK, Discovery and Blink Films and our team of volunteers on the night. All played a part in creating a wonderful evening and one that has generated much needed funds for our projects in Kenya, as well as furthered awareness of elephant behaviour and the urgent need to protect the species.