Daphne Sheldrick’s incredible journey from creating David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to become Africa’s elephant queen
For half a century, one remarkable woman in Africa has been rescuing orphan elephants from poachers, raising them like babies into adulthood and finally releasing them back into the wild. Meet Daphne Sheldrick, who is also popularly known as the Africa’s elephant queen.
Daphne Sheldrick was born in Kenya on 4th June 1934 and was educated at the Nakuru Primary School and the Kenya High School where she matriculated in 1950 with Honours. For over 25 years Daphne lived and worked alongside her late husband David Sheldrick, during which time they raised and successfully rehabilitated many wild species. From 1955-76, she was co-warden of Tsavo National Park with her husband.
After the death of her husband in 1977, Daphne Sheldrick created David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) in Nairobi, Kenya. Today DSWT is recognized as the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world, alongside Anti-Poaching Teams, Mobile Veterinary Units and Aerial Surveillance and a Sky Vet initiative in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully rescued over 180 orphaned elephants and reintegrated over 90 back into the wild.
The BBC Documentary ‘Elephant Diaries’ depicting Sheldrick’s work with the orphaned elephants, has received world-wide acclaim, and has the 3D IMAX film ‘Born to be Wild’, featuring the Trust’s orphaned elephants and the orang-utans of Burma.
In 1989, Daphne Sheldrick was decorated by the Queen in with an M.B.E. Following this, she was elevated to U.N.E.P.’s elite Global 500 Roll of Honour in 1992. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery by Glasgow University in June 2000. In December 2001 she was honoured by the Kenya Government through the prestigious Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) decoration. In 2002, the BBC recognized Sheldrick with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Queen Elizabeth II appointed Daphne Sheldrick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List.
Daphne Sheldrick has promoted wildlife conservation worldwide through an autobiography, four books, numerous articles, lectures and television appearances.
Share if you are inspired by this story. Also tag your animal lover friends.