As you found out in the October newsletter, I came across the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust while living in Nairobi, Kenya. Throughout my teaching years I have been telling my students about this great project and Daphne's commitment. Now, after having launched Mother To Elephants, I found out through feedback and reviews that in fact quite a number of readers did not know about Daphne Sheldrick and even thanked me for introducing her to them.
That is why I thought I should share with you some of the books I used for research while writing Mother To Elephants.
Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story, Daphne's autobiography, gives a wonderful insight into her growing up in Kenya and her elephant orphanage project. You'll even read about her getting attacked by a wild elephant that put her in the hospital and took months to recover from! Yet, she never gave up loving and caring for elephants even after this traumatic event. Talk about commitment! I don't wish to give more of the spoiler alert here, but the story of how this exactly happened and what led to her survival is a fascinating tale.
In this book, she also goes into detail about the long process of rehabilitation into the wild, as well as her triumphs and tragedies. The Unsung Heros, The Story of Tsavo, My Four-Footed Family, and An Elephant Called Eleanor, are some of Daphne's other books. In addition, for my research for Mother To Elephants, I watched various interviews and read many articles about Daphne and her life.
Daphne often spoke of how there is still much we have to learn about elephants and their amazing senses. For one, she said that everytime her nursery elephants were ready to be moved to Tsavo, where they would learn to be free again in the wild, former orphans now wild would show up on the exact day to welcome the new arrivals. Incredible since Nairobi and Tsavo are 270 kilometers apart!
We know of elephant's ears being powerful receptors , but scientists are now learning that elephant's can sense over longer distances through their feet. But how they manage this over such a great distance is astounding.
One of the most endearing stories Daphne would often retell in interviews is how her former orphans would return years later to the compound in Tsavo with their newborn wild elephants in tow and how they would always seek out their former caretakers or "keepers." To Daphne, the lore that "an elephant never forgets" was real indeed!
A recent visit to the orphanage by King Charles and Queen Camilla, should raise further awareness of the Sheldrick orphanage.
For more on my own backstory on the inspiration for Mother To Elephants check out my recent interview on the inspiration to Mother To Elephants by Literary Titan.