Main content

Benjamin Kyalo's message to the world

For the past 16 years, I have worked alongside a team of individuals from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust who have been surrogate mothers to 200 orphaned elephants, many are now fully grown and are living wild in Kenya.

They [elephants] are the gardeners of Africa, with ecosystems, plants and animals dependent on them for their own survival.

We've been able to give these elephants the second chance they deserve, but poachers, roads, railway lines, and expanding settlements, threaten this. None of these threats discriminate ­ those killed might be old wise matriarchs, elephants with infants or even calves.

When elephants are killed, it is a great loss to the environment, to the herd and to our country. They are the gardeners of Africa, with ecosystems, plants and animals dependent on them for their own survival. They dig for water in the dried sand rivers in the dry seasons helping all species in the process, and their giant footsteps help trap the rain in the wet seasons creating waterholes that sustain life.

When I close my eyes, I cannot imagine my life without elephants, or Africa without elephants. But while we humans are the cause of their destruction, we can also be their saviours. I believe every elephant counts and that is why every individual elephant rescued is given the specialist care, milk and love they need to thrive and the chance to have their own wild born family one day when grown.

I see my surrogate elephant family more than I do my human family and raising them has often been more challenging. But when an orphan that has passed through our hands joins the wild and comes back with a baby of its own, like Galana did with Gawa, it is the full circle and their gift to us, and makes me feel most satisfied and content.

I feel an emotional connection with each of my children. Despite living wild, our guardianship of them doesn’t end here ­ they still need us and we’ll continue to work as hard as possible to secure their future, for as long as it takes. We are determined that we won’t lose the battle for these incredible creatures.

by Benjamin Kyalo

from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust