2013 has seen thousands of people visiting the DSWT’s elephant nursery in Nairobi’s National Park to meet our elephant orphans as their human Keepers and family support them in their early years of life, preparing them for their next journey of rehabilitation in Tsavo East National Park. The DSWT is hugely grateful to one and all for taking their time to visit the orphans, the entrance fee of which directly goes raising these delicate babies through the first fragile years.
On top of our daily visits from the global public, the DSWT also welcomes many special visitors, VIPS and celebrities who come to see the orphans, and many of who pledge to do what they can to safeguard the future of the African elephant and spread international awareness of the plight of this threatened species. On the 13th of December the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, once again returned to the Nairobi Nursery, where she recently fostered Tundani, this time also hosting the First Lady of Sri Lanka, Shiranthi Rajapaksa, wife of the sixth President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Having experienced the orphans up close and personal and heard all of their heartfelt rescue stories, the First Lady of Sri Lanka decided to foster Murera. At 2 years old Murera was rescued having been incapacitated by a severe foot injury, most probably inflicted by a hidden poacher’s trap, Murera has since recovered from her terrible injury but due to the damage inflicted will never be as fully mobile as she was once.
Only a few weeks earlier on the 31st October the DSWT welcomed International football star and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré to the Nursery. Mr. Touré now joins the roster of other Goodwill Ambassadors for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to help generate public awareness and understanding of environmental causes having also during October pledged to help combat the illegal ivory trade that sees thousands of African elephants slaughtered each year as he was unveiled as a Goodwill Ambassador.
At his UNEP nomination meeting in Nairobi Touré said "I became a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador to spread the message that this poaching-and other forms of wildlife crime-is not only a betrayal of our responsibility to safeguard threatened species, but a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries".
Touré has been African Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and is an inspirational figure for Manchester City and his national side Côte d'Ivoire, "Côte d'Ivoire's national team is named 'The Elephants' after these magnificent creatures that are so full of power and grace, yet in my country alone there may be as few as 800 individuals left," Touré said. "Poaching threatens the very existence of the African elephant and if we do not act now we could be looking at a future in which this iconic species is wiped out."