Playing Tourist In Nairobi Goes Big

OK, Not really that big.  After Kitengela, Kelly and I also stopped in to see the elephants. BABY elephants!

Yes, folks, what’s cute, grey and wants to wrap around your arm? Baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage on the edge of Nairobi National Park after feeding time.

This is my girl, Ajabu, rescued in April of this year.

We were shown into the orphanage at 5pm and we were able to see the youngsters running into their pens where they spend the night. As soon as they are in their enclosure, they get a bottle of milk which usually gets sucked down in less than a minute. The older ones also have branches to munch.

Is he hungry? No, this guy had his own leaves, but apparently “the leaves are always sweeter on the other side”. He thought his neighbor had better branches and took them while her back was turned.

My orphan, Ajabu, gets some love from her handler. She repeatedly came over to him and latched on with her trunk, letting us rub her soft warm ears.

Someone recently asked me whether I knew my donation to the Wildlife Trust was being used appropriately. Well, I don’t think you can ever really know with certainty whether an organization is using profits wisely unless you personally conduct a full audit, which seems a tad unreasonable. I can tell you that from what I saw, donations are being well spent. The orphanage is clean and organized and each elephant has a handler that stays with them round-the-clock. (That’s the corner of the elevated wooden sleeping pallet in the above photo.) From the videos and stories, one can surmise that this is not a cheap endeavor. The orphans get flown from their rescue sites to the nursery in Nairobi (travel by truck would be quite long and possibly dangerous to the elephant’s health). They live in Nairobi for a number of years receiving constant attention and care after which, if deemed suitable, they are reintroduced to the wild over a number of months and years. Not to mention all the other activities the trust is involved in: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/about_us.asp. When charismatic mega-fauna gets conserved, many other species of flora and fauna benefit! I’m not advocating you make a donation, but just letting you know what I saw. (I’m also not telling you NOT to make a donation.)

Maxwell, blind due to a congenital defect, seems to love having visitors nearby. He also seems to find having his horn rubbed relaxing. Sweet soul.

Maxwell, blind due to a congenital defect, seems to love having visitors nearby. He also seems to find having his horn rubbed relaxing. This sweet soul laid next to the gate while we were there, letting us touch him (at our own risk, of course).

On the topic of donation…have you made a loan on Kiva yet? Not that a loan is a donation; it’s not. Right now, you don’t even have to use your own money since someone has donated money so other people can try Kiva for free. If you click here, you can make a loan for free and I will also get $25 to loan to someone (no, I don’t get to keep it).

Full disclosure, I’ve been back in the US for three weeks. I’m still finishing up my blog because there are a few great pics and stories you haven’t seen or heard yet. My Africa adventures aren’t over yet–I go back to Kenya and then Rwanda in July for three weeks with Rainforest Alliance.

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!”

-Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg

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