The African elephant is the largest animal walking the Earth. Their herds wander through 37 countries in Africa. They are easily recognized by their trunk that is used for communication and handling objects. And their large ears allow them to radiate excess heat. Upper incisor teeth develop into tusks in African elephants and grow throughout their lifetime.
Around 90% of African elephants have been wiped out in the past century – mainly due to the ivory trade. Elephant poaching, even though it’s illegal, has been getting dramatically worse in parts of Africa in the last 10 years – mostly because of growing demand for ivory in China and the Far East. Around 20,000 African elephants are being killed every year for their ivory - that's around 55 every day.
THE SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST (SWT)
Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) has worked for the protection and conservation of wildlife and wild habitats in Kenya for over 40 years.
Best known for their work to protect elephants, the SWT operates the world's first and most successful orphaned elephant rescue and rehabilitation program. Through its Orphans’ Project, the SWT hand-raises orphaned elephants, rhinos, giraffe and other animals, providing specialist care until they are ready to be reintegrated into protected wilderness areas. The Trust shares the progress of every orphan through a unique animal adoption program and, to date, they have successfully hand-raised 244 orphaned elephants, 150 of which are now living wild.
While the Orphans’ Project is at the heart of the organisation, it is one of six overarching projects undertaken by the SWT; from Anti-Poaching Operations to Mobile Veterinary Units, Aerial Surveillance to Saving Habitats, the Trust works with local partners at a field level in areas where wildlife and ecosystems face existential threats from human activity including poaching, habitat loss and climate change. Donations ensure injured and orphaned wild animals have a second chance, critical habitats are protected and wildlife has space to roam.