We were sad to hear, as were many of us across the globe, about the passing of Kenyan-British author and conservationist, Dame Daphne Sheldrick.
Daphne dedicated over 60 years of her life to the protection of Africa’s wildlife and some of the world’s most iconic and threatened animals. Born in Kenya in 1934, Daphne spent close to 30 years of her life working alongside her husband David, the founder warden of Kenya’s largest National Park, Tsavo East, as they forged this unforgiving wild land into a protected space for Kenya’s largest elephant population and all manner of wild species. On David’s passing in 1977, Daphne founded The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) and, over the next 40 years, helped shape the world’s understanding of elephants and rhinos and, critically, she played a pivotal role in the protection of these species.
The first person to successfully hand raise a milk dependent newborn elephant and rhino, Daphne’s inspiration has led to more than 230 orphaned elephants being saved in Kenya, and countless other infant elephants in countries across Africa and into India.
It is said, she lived alongside elephants and learned to read their hearts, much as they read ours – she understood their fragility, their intelligence, their capacity to love, to grieve, to heal, to support one another and she took those lessons to the global stage. In doing so, Daphne became a leading voice for elephants, never through a desire for the limelight, only ever driven by her belief that elephants, and other wild species, have a right to live a free and protected life – just like us.
Daphne’s life’s work has featured in countless television programmes, including the BBC’s Elephant Diaries, 60 minutes – The Orphanage, For the Love of Elephants and The Elephant Who Found a Mom. The feature-length documentaries Gardeners of Eden and IMAX’s Born to Be Wild, and too many publications to mention. Daphne’s own writings have included four books and most recently her autobiography Love, Life and Elephants – An African Love Story.
A living inspiration to us all you can gain a glimpse into her life’s work on a visit to the David Sheldrick Trust in Nairobi on our three-day Nairobi Park Stay