At the heart of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the rearing and rehabilitation of the orphaned elephants and rhinos that come into the DSWT’s care. When any of these innocent orphans are rescued, due to poaching, human-wildlife conflict or natural tragedies, the DSWT is committing itself to providing care and attention for each individual elephant or rhino calf in order for them to develop into healthy mature adults and ultimately live natural lives in the wild amongst their wild peers in a safe environment.
This dedication involves an incredible amount of time, effort and resources. One key element to each orphan’s survival is milk. There are a number of formulas used throughout the first four milk dependent years of an elephant calf's life - The first year is the most sensitive time, and we use a human milk powder comprised of well emulsified vegetables fats which forms the basis and from there additional additives are added depending on the age.
All the milk required has to be imported, from the UK, the Netherlands and Israel. This forms the basis for the infant formula which was perfected by Dame Daphne Sheldrick many years ago, after many trials and tribulations, in order to successfully rear a new-born elephant through its first very fragile few months, and other formulas are adapted to suit the older milk dependent orphans - but safe to say the milk, its transport, importation, delivery and storage provides the corner stone to our Orphans' Project.
The amount required is dramatic, especially now with 35 milk-dependent babies at the Nairobi Nursery alone, which is more orphans than the Trust has ever had to date at the Nursery, who each need up to 36 pints a day of this milk formula. On top of feeding the baby elephants in Nairobi, the still milk dependent Tsavo orphans at Ithumba and Voi also each need up to 48 pints of milk a day. This formula is different once they head to Tsavo to the rehabilitation units, but still vital to their health for at least four to five years. In total that amounts to at least 3,072 pints of mixed milk every single day, that’s 1,454 litres (nearly 320 gallons of milk).
For the DSWT providing this lifeline to the orphans is of upmost importance and we thank our many vital partners who make this happen. British Airways who have been such a support to DSWT for so many years, and who fly the milk out for us free of charge. Finlays who not only undertake the clearing of the milk on our behalf but who also pay the duty costs this end, their donation towards the orphaned elephants of Kenya. Many organisations and caring people throughout the world partner our Orphans’ Project and enable us to meet these significant milk overheads - The last shipment we received totalled a massive 5,600kgs of powdered milk.
Please remember what it takes to give each of our orphans a second chance of living a natural wild life and help us in making it possible https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/is/donate_now.asp