Daphne Sheldrick, with the full name of Dame Daphne Marjorie Sheldrick, passed away on April 12, 2018. This is one of the grief news for the world for having lost a dedicated elephant conservationist figure.
Daphne is a Kenyan-British conservationist and livestock expert. She spent the rest of her life for approximately 83 years (June 4, 1934 – April 12, 2018). Her expertise is primarily in terms of raising and reintegrating orphaned elephants to the wild for more than 30 years.
Before actually setting up her own animal protection center, Daphne has long been in the field. She and her husband, David Sheldrick, establish the largest National Park in Kenya named Tsavo East. After her husband died, Daphne later founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), a rehabilitation and rescue program for orphaned elephants.
The rehabilitation program was established in 1977 in Nairobi, Kenya. Until now they are well known for their contribution to the conservation of animals, especially elephants. Tourists can also see firsthand how elephant orphaned babies grew up with milk bottles and play in the mud freely.
Daphne was the first to raise elephants and newborns. She has saved more than 230 orphan elephants in Kenya, as well as many elephant babies from other countries throughout Africa and India. Daphne once said two years ago if the elephant ivory hunting was still going on, then the African forest elephants (the smallest of the three species of elephant) will be extinct in 2025.
Daphne certainly would not let that happen. Therefore, Daphne strives with all her power to protect the elephant babies who lost their mother to ivory hunting, dying from drought, or conflicts between humans and wildlife. Thus, the elephant babies can regenerate and extinction can be avoided.
DSWT was established with the aim of providing conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife in Kenya. In the hands of Daphne, this place managed to be the most successful saving the elephant babies and rehabilitating them.
In this regard, DSWT provides Anti-Poaching Teams, Mobile Veterinary Units and Aerial Surveillance, and Sky Vet in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service. In addition, DSWT also provides other projects aimed at protecting the natural environment and raising public awareness through Saving Habitats and Community Outreach.
During this time, the baby orphaned elephant who was taken care of DSWT grew up with bottle milk. Daphne’s hard work for 28 years to find a magical milk formula that can keep baby elephants alive came with satisfying results. The concoction of the milk proved to have saved many elephant babies who could not survive without milk under the age of two.
But milk is not enough to make the baby elephants survive. It takes a guard 24 hours a day with an elephant. These animals include social and emotional creatures that are often very traumatized when arriving at an orphanage, let alone a baby elephant. A baby elephant is a very fragile soul. When they are over the age of two, then they can be transferred to Tsavo East to train them survival skills.
Daphne was always by the side of elephants all her life. Thanks to her hard work, she was honored by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006. The Queen appointed Sheldrick Dame Commander as “the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”, the first knighthood in Kenya awarded since the country achieved its independence in 1963. Not only that, she got more appreciation for another award.
Now, this tough woman has left the world forever. She died on April 12 afternoon after battling her illness, which is breast cancer. Although now she is gone, what she has done throughout her life will always be remembered by the world.
She had done an invaluable inheritance and what she has created for conservation in Kenya will be always remembered. After all the struggle, hopefully, Daphne Sheldrick can inspire the global community to always preserve animals and the natural environment. Good-bye, Daphne Sheldrick.