The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a rescue and rehabilitation centre for elephants based on the edge of Nairobi National Park and we visited on our way from Giraffe Manor to our next lodge. The “orphanage”:https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/ is open from 11am to 12 noon every day for visitors and was established in 1977 by his wife, Dame Daphne Sheldrick in memory of her husband.
We’d been advised to arrive early and even at 10.30am there were people queuing in the hot sun to get in (having said that it was Boxing Day and there were lots of local families out). The entrance fee is 500 Kenyan shillings (£3.30). Everyone vied for a front row standing position at the roped off area and eventually 12 of the 25 orphans ran down the track to the five green-jacketed keepers who produced bottle after bottle of milk as they guzzled it down in a matter of seconds. They are dependent on milk until the age of three.
Two grey female ostriches accompanied them although the reason for this wasn’t clear. Once fed, the elephants were encouraged to walk around near to the visitors who were given a safety briefing: don’t crouch down or they’ll think you’re a toy; don’t make loud noises and don’t try to put your fingers in their mouth.
The head keeper provided a commentary telling everyone that they could have prevented many of the elephants becoming orphans, by simply not buying ivory. Each elephant, named after the area in which they were found, was introduced with the reasons they were orphaned: some had simply been found wandering, others their mother had been killed and in some cases they had fallen down drying waterholes. We were encouraged to adopt an elephant for $50 per year and told about the privileges this would bring. The elephants spend around 8 years at the orphanage before they are truly integrated back into the wild. The dozen elephants were then taken back and the next 13 were introduced to the crowds. We left slightly before the end to avoid the rush and on exiting found cars parked a long way down the road.
This is a great cause and a lovely way to see baby elephants but my advice would be to get there early for a front row position.