Daphne Sheldrick was born and raised in Africa. Kenya to be specific on June 4th, 1934. Her love for the wildlife there was as natural as the air she breathed. She lived among both domesticated and wild animals as she grew up. She did extremely well in school and graduated with honors with the option of attending college. Instead she opted for marriage to David Sheldrick, the famous founder Warden of Kenya's giant Tsavo National Park. Little did she know then that her true calling was about to begin.

Daphne was able to observe and study most wild species in the park in both their natural and captive state. Their captive state because she took care of the orphaned young when necessary. From this she gained intimate knowledge of their minds and emotions, the role of instinct on behavior, the importance of scent and chemistry, telepathic capabilities, individuality, vocalizations, and interpretation of their complex body language.

When her husband died in 1977, Daphne then lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park as a courtesy of the Kenya Government. It was here that she started the Orphans' Nursery where she has successfully hand-reared over 70 newborn Elephant orphans. Some of these baby elephants were just hours old and this was the first time this has ever been achieved. During the time of their two milk dependent years, the baby orphans live 24 hours a day with their human family of Keepers that replace the lost elephant family.

After this time the orphaned elephants then grow up in the Tsavo National Park, where they interact freely with the wild elephant herds and eventually become fully integrated back into the wild community. These elephants never forget Daphne's kindness to save their lives though. Some of them have had their own babies in the wild and they have brought them back to show to their human family. It is a truly remarkable expression of love and trust and gratitude to their human family.

In addition to the elephants, Daphne has also successfully raised over a dozen newborn Black Rhinos, some of whom have also had wild born babies which they have shared with their human family. Daphne's expertise has been very instrumental in helping many other elephants throughout all of Africa and many other parts of the world also. She is recognized internationally as a world authority on both the African Elephant and the Black Rhinoceros.

Daphne has also diligently worked to end the abuse of captive wild animals and promoted wildlife conservation worldwide. She has written 4 books plus her memoirs, written many articles and given many lectures on the elephants and rhinos. Daphne has also been depicted in the BBC documentary "Elephant Diaries"which has been seen throughout the world. In order to honor her late husband David's memory, she also set up the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 1977 from which she has made significant contributions to wildlife conservation in Kenya and against poaching in Africa.

The little girl who grew up loving her native wildlife in Africa has become a truly remarkable woman. One who would make her husband and her country very proud and one who lives for her beloved elephants and rhinos in a way that speaks only of her deep love for them.

Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Responses to "Daphne Sheldrick : Mother to Africa's Orphaned Elephants"

  1. Daphne,

    I would so love to be able to do what you do!!! I love animals and my heart has always been with the Elephants and Gorillas. Some of us just never have that chance to do what you have done with your life!! Blessings to you for everything that you are doing for the wonderful animals. And I too agree that if people could be more like the Elephants, this world would be such a better place!! Once again, Blessings to you dear woman!!!!!

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