Last Thursday, Willamette Intl Travel received the saddening news of the passing of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. As a longtime partner of Origins Safaris, Willamette Intl Travel has organized numerous trips to Kenya over the past few years, which often included a visit to the elephant orphanage program of this heart-warming and inspiring Wildlife Trust. Christina and John have also taken small groups out to Ithumba Camp, located in a remote area of Tsavo East National Park where the orphans are gradually released back into the Wild. All who have gone with them have said that this was a life-changing experience.
Born in Kenya in 1934, Dr. Dame Sheldrick devoted her life to African wildlife. Together with her husband David, the founder warden of Tsavo East, she transformed Kenya’s largest national park into a safe haven for wild species, including the largest elephant population in the country. Upon David’s passing in 1977, Daphne founded The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which for the past 40 years has been dedicated to the protection of elephants and rhinoceroses. During one of Christina’s very first visits to Sheldrick, she was thrilled to meet both Dame Daphne and her daughter Angela, who will carry on her mother’s amazing work.
In memoriam, Angela has delivered the following words:
What an example Daphne was to us all, and I feel blessed to have been able to call her my Mum because she was quite simply ‘one of a kind’. She was a national treasure and a conservation icon. Her legacy is immeasurable and her passing will reverberate far and wide because the difference she has made for conservation in Kenya is unparalleled.
She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten, and this is what Daphne drew the most comfort from in her final weeks; knowing that her memory and work would continue with the tiny steps of baby elephants for generations to come and that the work that she pioneered has been able to achieve so much for wildlife and wild places throughout Kenya. She died knowing that she will continue to make a difference each and every day upon a land that she held so dear to her heart through the work of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, thanks to a dedicated team she leaves behind. Daphne was fortunate to live long enough to preside over mud baths at Ithumba with well over 100 orphans, ex-orphans and wild friends frolicking, and be able to say to herself, ‘but for I’. What a gift she leaves us all with, as she really is a shining example of the finest of humanity. Thank you all for your love and passion and support.
If you wish to make a donation to commemorate Daphne’s life and help The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust continue to protect the wild lives she loved so much, the Trust has created the following link:
Every dollar donated to the DSWT is put to good use, saving wild lives and keeping families together. Case in point: Last month, the DSWT/KWS Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit freed this tiny calf from a water hole. Racing nightfall they put the baby in their truck (with the pint-sized passenger trumpeting as loudly as he could) and set out to find his mum. The two were successfully reunited and walked off into the sunset together.
For those who attended WIT’s 40th birthday last December, you may remember the beautiful painting of wild elephants at Ithumba Camp, a silent auction presented by Kenyan artist Edwin Selempo. WIT collected and donated the proceedings of that sale to the David Sheldrick
Read more on our blog about the Wildlife Trust, Tsavo East National Park and the Ithumba Safari Camp (where Christina and John have stayed with many clients during their visit to Tsavo and the elephants):
An important note: To stay at either of the Ithumba Camps, you need to take over the entire camp, four tents at each of two camps. Guests must also arrange their own food and drinks and safari driver-guide. Click on the link above to learn more about Ithumba.
All Photos included in this post are courtesy of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust