“Walking into The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, I could feel my heart beating with excitement. A dream I have had for many, many years was about to come true thanks to Micato Safaris. I entered the main gate and was greeted by the manager of the Trust who began his presentation of this amazing sanctuary that was created to foster orphaned elephants. Founded in 1977, the Trust has successfully raised over 150 infant elephants and reintegrated them back into the wild. Without their heroic efforts these young animals would have not survived.
My first question – where are they? There wasn’t one elephant anywhere! After a few minutes I was directed to a pathway that leads out to the state park in Nairobi and within seconds I saw movement at the far end of the path. Approaching were 33 of the most incredible animals ranging in age from one month to three years. All I could do was giggle. Once the “babies” were returned to their pens, I was invited to walk around to see each one. About half way through my journey I was standing in front of a pen marked “Mashariki”. As Mashariki was enjoying her afternoon snack of leaves and branches in her pen I called out her name. This beautiful two-year old elephant turned and walked toward me.
At first she seemed a bit shy, but I felt she could sense my happiness in being near her and that I meant her no harm. My happiness soon turned into one of the most joyful moments of my life when her trunk came through the bars of her pen and began to tap me on the head, shoulders and arm – she was getting to know me! This gesture empowered me to feel welcome, so I put my hands through the bars and began to rub her beautiful head. She obviously enjoyed the interaction because soon thereafter she was extending her ears to me, then her side, and soon our foreheads were pressed together. Have you ever seen an elephant smile? I have and it was magical because I knew that smile was for me. I wanted to stay in that spot forever, but sadly visiting hours were soon over and I had to leave. With one last rub of her forehead, I turned and walked out to head back to my hotel. Though the time spent at the Trust may be over, it will forever live in my heart and I anxiously wait for the opportunity to return.”