Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Peggy

Today is Peggy's birthday (though since there's that whole time zone thing, she's probably reading it after her birthday).

I wanted to tell you what I got her for a gift, 'cause I hope that some of you might get intrigued as well.

You know, last year she had her trip of a lifetime and went on a long-dreamed of photo safari to Africa. Some day I will finally get to see her photos, but I have seen a few of them and they are spectacular.

I had seen a BBC special on TV before she went to Africa, and copied it onto a DVD for her. (I can't remember now if that was the reason she visited this place or if she discovered it on her own).

It is the David Sheldrake Wildlife Trust and it's an amazing place where they rescue orphaned elephants and rhinos. It was founded by Daphne Sheldrake, in memory of her husband David, who had been head warden of Kenya's Tsavo National Park until his death in 1977.

(Now whoda thunk that a person who works with orphaned puppies and a person who works with orphaned kangaroos would be interested in a place like this!)

The Sheldrake Wildlife Trust is in Nairobi National Park. (There are several videos taken by people if you do a search on "David Sheldrake" on YouTube. There are also video clips on the Sheldrake web site.)

It was a few years back when I saw the BBC video, but I remember the tales of the traumatized babies, some only weeks old, watching their mothers be slaughtered by poachers. One of the articles linked on the Sheldrake web sites says, "When I met [Daphne] Sheldrake in 1989, she was soothing a baby elephant so traumatized after ivory poachers killed its family that it screamed in its sleep, apparently suffering nightmares."

You know what that did to my heart.

Each baby has an individual caretaker, so they are with a single human being 24 hrs a day, but they have discovered that separation anxiety is very real for these babies, so they rotate the caretakers so that the babies don't get too attached to one person, who might have to leave for one reason or another.

Anyway, Peggy went to visit the shelter while she was in Africa and when she returned to Australia, she went onto the web site and got information about their adoption program and adopted little Dida, born September 2007, who is the youngest of the group available for adoption.

I decided to adopt a companion for Dida as a gift for Peggy's birthday. I wanted a very young elephant (that's how I found that Dida is the youngest). I read through the profiles of every single elephant on the site and settled on Lesanju, a year older than Dida, who seems to have taken Dida under her wing.


I know that "fostering" programs are just hooks to get you to contribute money, but it's a terrific cause so I don't mind. I got turned on to elephants and their plight worldwide when I was following The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, which rescues elephants from zoos and circuses and moves them to the compound where there are no visitors allowed and they are free to do what they can and live out the remainder of their lives in as normal an environment as they can (given that it's not Africa).

I am more than thrilled to help support an organization which does what it can to ease the trauma for these poor babies and raise them to eventually be released back into the wild.

So, happy birthday, my friend. Now you have two elephants. YOU can clean up the yard.

Dida and Lesanju

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

What a fabulous and thoughtful gift.