Interest Pieces Interviews

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Saving Elephants One Orphan at a Time.

*As seen in The Logbook


For those that work at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust theirs is a grand and noble calling: The rescue and rehabilitation of orphans left to fend for themselves due to poaching, misadventure and climate change. With the Trust working to save orphaned wild animals, protect key habitats for wildlife and treat injured animals from lions and zebras, to elephants, buffalo and rhino with the Kenya Wildlife Service, their positive and ongoing impact cannot be understated.

Copyright The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust


The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (known as the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) was founded in 1977 in Kenya by Dame Sheldrick in memory of her late husband David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE who was a famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park.

In 1948, David Sheldrick began his renowned career within the Royal National Parks of Kenya, where he worked unwaveringly for over two decades transforming Tsavo, a previously unchartered and inhospitable land, into Kenya’s largest and most famous National Park.  For over 25 years Kenya-born Daphne Sheldrick lived and worked alongside her husband, during which time they raised and successfully rehabilitated many wild species.

Since the death of her husband, Daphne and her family have lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park where they built the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and its pioneering Orphans’ Project into the global conservation force that it is today. Daphne’s daughter Angela worked alongside her mother running the Trust for twenty years, and since Daphne’s passing in 2018 continues the mission with passion and vigour ably supported by her husband Robert Carr-Hartley, their two sons Taru and Roan and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust team. ​​​​​​​


The Founder of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE and it has been a lifelong passion. Recognized internationally as an authority on the rearing of wild animals, her success was attributed to her lifelong experience with wild creatures, an in-depth knowledge of animal psychology and the behavioural characteristics of different species.

Daphne passed away on 12th April 2018, and in her 83 years, she touched countless lives — from generations of elephants who are thriving today through her trailblazing conservation work, to people all over the world who drew inspiration from her. She is testament to the difference that a single person can make, and her legacy lives on as the Trust continues to protect and preserve wildlife in her memory:



The Trust was founded with the aim of embracing all measures that complement the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife and habitats. Securing a long-term and protected future for wildlife and habitats, so that wild animals may live in harmony alongside humans is the ultimate goal.

Working in eleven National Parks including iconic ecosystems like Masai Mara, Tsavo and Amboseli, the Trust employs hundreds of staff members locally in Kenya for its field projects. These include anti-poaching, community outreach, saving habitats (encompassing fence-line construction and maintenance), mobile veterinary units, aerial surveillance and the Orphans’ Project.

Copyright The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Mia-Collis


“Anyone can get involved in the work of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust,” Amie Alden, communications and media officer says, “From wherever they live in the world.”

Adopting an orphan in the care/protection of the SWT is a great way to support the Trust. For a suggested donation of $50 per orphan per year, you (or your gift recipient) can stay up-to-date on the progress of a specific orphan and receive monthly exclusive emails on their Orphans’ Project.

“It offers a unique insight into the world of elephants and the work of the SWT,” she explains, “While your donation will help fund the SWT’s wide ranging conservation projects.”

You can also subscribe to their newsletters and follow and show support on social media.

“We are proud to be able to share our conservation news and success stories daily through our social media channels and every month via email,” she says, “The more people aware of the new developments, opportunities and rescues means the greater change we make.”

If you are planning to visit Kenya, you can visit their Nairobi Nursery (during select visiting hours) or stay in one of their Eco Lodges. Few things beat seeing the work in person while their Eco Lodges are based in areas of spectacular natural beauty.

“Funds from our Eco Lodges directly support our conservation work,” she adds.


According to Amie, challenges to wildlife in Kenya include but are not limited to growing human-wildlife conflict caused by development, agriculture, poaching, habitat loss and changing weather patterns. Also, their capacity to ensure the global public is aware of these threats and inspired to help the Trust do something about it.

“As a charity, the SWT has always sought to be as administratively lean as possible ensuring as much of the donations as possible can go to the field,” she says, “We also adopt a ‘where the rubber meets the road’ approach to our work, ensuring we can respond immediately and adapt to new challenges. We’ve always sought to lead the way on pioneering conservation activities and will continue to do this in 2020.”


Over the years, the SWT has successfully raised 249 orphaned elephants, returning more than 156 of these back to the wild. These individuals would not have survived without the Trust’s intervention and their successful integration into wild herds gives the population of the species (which has been extremely hard-hit by poaching and habitat loss) a much-needed boost. The SWT is also aware of 35 elephant calves born to orphaned elephants they have reintegrated, showing the impact rescuing a single orphaned elephant can have for the creation of future generations.

In 2019 alone, the Trust (with their local partners the KWS) attended to 651 sick or injured wild animals across Kenya and, since the inception of its mobile veterinary teams, they have treated more than 2,500 injured elephants in Kenya – that’s 7% of its estimated elephant population. Many of these injuries have been inflicted by humans including snares, spears and arrow and gun-shot wounds incurred during poaching attempts or human-wildlife conflict incidents.

The SWT has also played a pivotal role in reducing bushmeat poaching, especially in the Tsavo Conservation Area, seizing/ removing 159,239 snares and traps to date. Considering each snare can be re-laid to trap animals hundreds of times, the life-saving potential of confiscating just a single snare is huge. The impact of these De-Snaring patrols can be seen most clearly in the Northern Sector of Tsavo East National Park where poaching once decimated small animal populations and caused elephants to flee the area. Now, however, it’s not unknown for herds of 100+ of elephants to congregate around the Trust’s Ithumba Reintegration Unit!

“In other areas where the SWT maintains its Saving Habitats project and regular De-Snaring Patrols – such as the Kibwezi Forest – the Trust has recorded zero incidences of poaching,” Amie highlights.

Lastly, through its Air Wing and ground teams, the SWT is working hard to prevent human-wildlife conflict and, every year, responds to calls from communities to guide wild elephants off community land and back into protected areas. These operations help prevent crop-raiding by elephants and retaliatory killings by communities, whose livelihoods can be lost in a single night of crop-raiding.

Copyright The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust


In 2020, the SWT is expanding its Saving Habitats through a partnership with Kari Ranch (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute). This is a 64,000 acre of land spread across the foothills of the Chyulu Hills and they are fencing in one side of the Ranch to protect both communities that live on its border and the healthy populations of elephants and black rhinos that live within.

“In 2020, the SWT will continue to identify opportunities to better protect wildlife, working with local partners to enhance our footprint,” Amie concludes.

ADDRESS: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust