Friday, September 14, 2012

Kids

Kids are great. The kids I came across during my trips around Subsaharan Africa are happy and playful, sometimes shy, but always welcoming and ready for mischief. They may not have the fancy toys that kids in the West have and they may not know how to use the computer by the age of 4, but are eager to learn, want to engage, are curious, quick to pick up any new game, and always want to practice English. They are great companions and they always follow you wherever you go. These pictures are some of the great kids I have met in the last couple of years.






























































Thursday, September 6, 2012

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust :: Nairobi

There is something about elephant babies that I love, maybe it's the immense size difference with their moms, their tiny trunk, their funny hair, their clumsiness, I don't know. But then again, every baby is cute, right?

Visiting The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphanage Center in Nairobi, Kenya gave me the chance to learn more about them. The center rescues orphan calves, raise them until they can be safely released back to the wilderness. Their dedication, love for the animals and hard work is apparent at every corner of the center.

These babies become orphaned mostly because of poaching. Just as human babies, they can't survive without their mothers. They need constant breast milk, they nurse up to 3 years, sometimes more. The milk they receive at the center is cow milk combined with a lot of supplements. They need their mothers' warmth, the only way to simulate that is with the blankets tied around them. They need play time and they need stimulation. In other words, they need constant care. At the center, each baby has their own room and handler. The keeper sleeps with the babies in their room and spends most of his time with them, all the way until they get released. (All the handlers are men)

It's an amazing sight to see the bond between these men and their elephant baby. And the elephants don't forget. According to their website "A number of our ex Nursery orphans have now had wild born young which they have brought back to show their erstwhile human family, and others are now pregnant and living free, yet keeping in touch with those who are still Keeper dependent. Amongst these are many orphaned too young to have any recollection of their elephant mother or family."

It was a truly heartbreaking, yet heartwarming experience to see these babies. If you ever have a chance to visit the center, do so. And if not, you can learn about them more here www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org












And here is a video from Tarangire National Park in Tanzania that will surely make your day.