These sweet photos and film provide a unique perspective on the elephants’ lives, hidden away in blankets, being fed through bottles, having their trunks massaged, and playing in the mud.
Each elephant saved by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a unique backstory of survival due to ivory poa.ch.ing, habitat loss, forest destruction, or drought.
The trust has a shelter in Nairobi National Park where they hand-raise infant orphans before reintroducing them into the wild.
Over a three-year period, photographer James Suter and filmmaker Antony Kimani visited the orphanage to capture these moving photographs and videos.
They provide a unique look into the lives of these young elephants and their remarkable connection with the carers there.
While filming a Go Pro project at the orphanage last month, James Suter, 30, from Cape Town, South Africa, captured adorable photos and videos of the young kids.
One of his videos captures an endearing moment when a caregiver strokes a newborn elephant’s trunk at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Mr. Van De Molen said that workers used their hands to clean the elephants’ nasal cavities by rubbing their trunks.
The youngsters can also be seen wearing multi-colored blankets on their backs, much like little jackets.
Photographer Antony said that the blankets were like a lifeline for the young elephants since they depended on them for warmth and comfort without their mothers snuggling up.
He said: “These multi-colored coats are their secret weapon for survival.
“In the wild, tiny elephants are protected from the wind, rain, and sun by their devoted elephant family, from the chill of night and warmed in the shade of their mother’s body during the heat of the day.
“At such a young age, elephants require constant protection, not just from po.a.chers and predators, but also from the wind, rain, cold, and scorching rays of the sun during the heat of the day.
“This is exactly what the blankets work. Many orphaned elephants might perish from pneumonia if they don’t have warm blankets to keep them safe.
“Although a wonderful tool for raising infant elephants, some orphans become overly attached to their ‘blanky’.
“Like a human youngster, the children tug their blankets, suck and play with them, comforted by what they represent.”
However, when each orphan reaches a certain age and has mastered the skills necessary to survive on their own, they must ultimately appreciate that there comes a time when they no longer require a blanket and are gently weaned off their addiction to become an adult elephant and join a wild herd in Tsavo.
“This happens when the elephants reach between 12 and 18-months old.”
“Not only are their blankies comforting to the young orphans, but they also get a lot of love and care from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust staff who lovingly feed them milk from a bottle and even scratch their tiny trunks.”