Adopt an Elephant
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All I Want For Christmas Is World Peace, And An Elephant

Foster a orphan elephant this holiday season


Before you buy your family a last-minute holiday gift consider adopting an orphaned elephant. Elephants are born into large family units that can consist of… members. Their tenacity and curious nature make them one of the cutest animals on the planet.

In what was once considered a sanctuary for African elephants, this amazing country is now plagued with a dramatic decrease in the number of elephants; from approximately 415,000 to 111,000 in the last decade alone. The ivory "business" is lucrative for some. One trunk from an elephant can sell for approximately $3,000. Locals are often involved in the poaching of these animals to supplement the income of their families. The demand for ivory from elephant tucks elephants ivory tusks are at an all-time high, leading to orphans that are unable to survive on their own.

As a leading pioneer in the field of elephants, David Sheldrick spent his life rescuing and caring for these majestic creatures, establishing The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT). Working in conjunction with Kenya wildlife service, the DSWT is dedicated to saving elephants in Africa. Finding orphans and getting them to safety is only the first step in providing them with safety and a place to grow up.

Over 150 orphaned elephants have been rescued and given a second chance at life with the DSWT Orphan's Project. The orphanage is full of babies that arrive traumatized by shock because of the events they experienced. They can spend months grieving the loss of their mother and family.

Caregivers dedicate their lives to these orphans, serving as their lost elephant family. They share the responsibility of caring for these fragile creatures 24 hours a day. Caregivers provide affection and sleep with them at night, just as their elephant family would do. Orphans are fed bottles every 3 hours, given blankets when cold and sunscreen and umbrellas to avoid sunburn.

Happy babies have a greater chance of surviving and are taken on walks, given toys that stimulate their intelligence and memory. Recovery involves building confidence. They are introduced into various parks and slowly begin to reintegrate into several groups of elephants who were also orphaned and not shy about greeting the newcomer and enjoy making them feel welcome.

Longer walks with their caretakers, more interaction with existing herds and exploration are followed by returning to camp where they sleep protected from predators while they are still young and vulnerable. As the memory of past trauma is replaced with new experiences, orphans gradually begin to prefer the company of other elephants and their dependence on human caretakers begins to fade.

Orphans are incorporated into wild herds by learning limits through play with peers, invites to "sleepovers" with older orphans who will walk to the camp and pick up a new member. If the younger elephant gets homesick, they are escorted back to the camp where their human caretaker is waiting for them.

Orphans decide when they are ready to transition to living within a wild herd. They remain in contact with their human caretakers and visit often. Just as their new elephant family did, they are excited when a newcomer arrives and enjoy helping the orphan acclimate. Over time, herd members may decide to branch off and start their own group but will remain in close proximity to their already established family. When a member of any herd gives birth everyone pitches in, taking turns babysitting and caring for each other.

The cost of this care is expensive and funded by donations. The Orphan's Project offers the public a unique opportunity to become foster parents for orphans and support an organization that is focused on keeping the elephant species alive during a time when their existence is threatened. The holiday season is a great time to think outside the box and give a loved one the unique gift of life.

Life for an orphan elephant that has been adopted can be done for as little as $50 a year. Fostering an orphan makes you part of the DSWT team with access to the "Keeper's Diary" that includes updates and photos as well as interactive maps of where an orphan was found.

Gift of life - adopt an orphan this holiday

Ask your friends and family to adopt an elephant orphan. If you are like me, you definitely do not need another scarf or last-minute gift.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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