Wednesday, 3 January 2018


For Christmas our family was given the adoption of a baby elephant as a present. Malima is looked after by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) in Kenya. This is Malima's story.

On the 30th October 2016 the DSWT received a call about a collapsed elephant calf. When they arrived they found a young elephant lying on a mound of Earth who was totally unresponsive and would have likely died very quickly without help.

The area was suffering from a drought and there was no food anywhere close to water. It's likely that her mother abandoned her either the night before or that morning. Elephants have close familial bonds so this cannot have been an easy decision. The choice was either for the family to leave Malima to die or risk none of them making it to find food and water.

In many ways Malima was very lucky. For a start there were a pride of lions near where she was found but they were busy feeding on an oryx. Without human intervention she would have certainly died and it took two rounds of IV fluids to ensure she kept going. She was very close to death and it took a week before the trust knew she would survive.

The name Malima is Swahili for "mound" which of course is where she was found. She is now a happy member of the nursery herd at the trust.

Here's a video from DSWT which tells the story of the gorgeous baby elephant.

Since it's foundation in 1977 the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust have hand-raised over 150 infant elephants as well as infant black rhinos. They also do a range of conservation work to help these animals in the wild and release as many young animals as they can. 

African elephants are in big trouble. In the 20th century there were between 3 and 5 million African elephants but now there only about 415,000. This is largely down to the growing demand for ivory, especially in Asia. These magnificent animals are killed for their tusks- many of the orphans that are at DSWT lost their mothers in the ivory trade. It's been illegal to sell ivory (outside of antiques) since 1990 yet this has not stopped poaching at all. 

Poaching isn't the only threat either. They are losing habitat at an alarming rate- their range shrunk from 3 million square miles in 1979 to less than one million in 2007. In continues to shrink as logging, mining and biofuel plantations take away the land they've roamed for thousands of years. There is also increasing conflict between elephants and humans as the human population increases. 

Of course they are also affected by climate change. It's not an easy life for any animal that lives in the tropics but increased temperatures and lower rainfall mean droughts are becoming more regular. Elephants like Malima are sadly becoming more and more common. 

As well as being magnificent, emotionally complex creatures they are vital for the habitat. It's estimated that up to 30 species of tree require elephants for dispersal and germination. Elephants shape their habitat, having an impact on factors like fresh water and forest cover. There are even invertebrates who rely solely on the elephants for survival, using their dung or their footprints to as their own micro-habitats. 

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does incredible work so do give whatever support you can. 


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