Elephant calves at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Elizabeth McBride
When I was in Nairobi in 2007, I had an opportunity to visit The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They raise elephant calves whose mothers have been killed by ivory poachers.
Elephant babies, much like human babies, rely on their mothers for nurturing and protection to survive. The day that I visited the trust all of the orphans were covered in blankets. In the wild, these babies would stand under their mothers to stay warm. Also, the caregivers at the trust actually sleep near the calves, so they can develop a bond. Without a connection to a caregiver, the young elephant may not eat.
Elephant calves are orphaned because poachers kill their mothers for ivory. Lately, I have been grief stricken about the accelerated rate that elephants are being slaughtered, sometimes even in protective areas in and around Kenya.
The African elephant will face extinction in our lifetime if more action is not taken.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust teaches local communities about their environment and the importance of their priceless natural heritage. It is also part of our heritage of people of faith on this planet. We must live in balance with creation.
The Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga has asked for help to protect these amazing creatures, our heritage. We need to put pressure on those responsible, even religions, for creating and propagating the illegal ivory trade. If people stop buying and wanting ivory, criminals will stop killing these elephants.
What do elephants have to do with our purpose statement about “promoting healing and wholeness?” The illegal poaching and destruction of these amazing creatures is helping to pay for war and terrorism. In the words of Sister Joan Chittister O.S.B., “most of these civilians on whom war falls most mercilessly, most defenselessly, are women and children. . . ..”
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programs, editor of Café, and is as passionate about advocating for the protection of elephants as she is about advocating justice for women and girls.