Elephant poaching is disastrous not only for the animals who are killed, but also for their families. Poaching leaves countless infant and young elephants orphaned each year. Because young elephants are not fully weaned until they are 5 to 10 years old, they can die without maternal care. Sometimes a young calf will wait for days alongside its dead mother, slowly wasting away.
With one African elephant killed every 15 minutes for its ivory, orphan rehabilitation is an incredible need throughout the continent. For many years, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya has successfully rehabilitated orphaned elephants and helped to integrate them into new adoptive elephant families, but there has been no facility in Tanzania equipped to rescue such calves.
Now, the African Wildlife Trust is working to launch the first elephant orphanage in Tanzania. It will be located near the trust’s Maisha Kikoti Safari Camp, a favorite lodge of mine just outside of Tarangire National Park. (Proceeds from the lodge go to African Wildlife Trust to support Ivory Orphans and other conservation projects in Tanzania.)
The African Wildlife Trust’s Ivory Orphans Project will rehabilitate and reintegrate young elephants orphaned by poaching. Rescuing these Ivory Orphans will mitigate the effects of poaching by offering them the intensive care they need through childhood, then reintegrating them back into wild elephant populations.
Interested in helping? Soon, there will be volunteer opportunities available to visitors at the Maisha Kikoti Safari Camp. Contact Ujuzi if you’d like to visit the camp and orphanage on your next Tanzanian safari.