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It never ceases to amaze me that I have been able to build a career around two of my greatest passions: advocacy for endangered species and photography. I am privileged to be able to travel the world and document some of the most beautiful and vulnerable species; I am honored to partner with incredible organizations like The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) who put conservation at the forefront of their efforts.
But sometimes I worry I’m not doing enough. As I sit at home editing photos, there are hundreds of endangered animals in need of care. This is one of the reasons I am such a fan of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Fostering Program. Founded by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in 1977, who spent decades honing proper milk formula recipes and complex husbandry techniques, the DSWT has successfully rescued and rehabilitated more than 200 orphan elephants, with many of them now returned to the wild and even having wild born babies of their own - 29 so far!
For just $50 per year, anyone can become a foster parent to an orphaned elephant, guaranteeing it receives the nutrients and security necessary for re-entry into the wild. Becoming a foster parent is simple and requires just a few easy steps:
1. Visit the On-Line Fostering Program webpage and select an orphan from the list. To see profiles on the current list of orphans, visit the Elephant Orphan Profiles page. The DSWT highly recommends that all new foster parents choose an elephant that is listed as a “Nursery Baby,” as they will have the most photos and up-to-date information on those elephants.
You may also call the DSWT USA office at (949) 305-3785 to set up your foster. (If done through the U.S. office, your contribution will be eligible for tax-deduction.)
2. Click the “foster now” link at the top of the profile.
3. You will then be re-directed to the confirmation and payment portal. Complete the 5-step process by confirming the number of orphans you would like to foster, the length of time you would like to commit to fostering, and the amount you would like to contribute as a foster parent.
4. Once your online payment is confirmed, you will receive an e-mail with a fostering certificate, a profile and photograph of your adopted orphan, an interactive map indicating where your orphan was found, a description of its habitat, and a list of known threats to the elephants or rhinos in that area. It will also include a watercolor painting by Angela Sheldrick.
As a foster sponsor, you will receive monthly summaries highlighting major events along with a link to the ‘Keepers Diary’ for your elephant or rhino, which is full of pictures and progress notes. You will be the first to hear of new arrivals and rescues. The DSWT fostering team believes each foster parent is a valuable participant in the program and works diligently to make each member feel connected to the work.
Although we all may not be able to join the DSWT’s teams on the ground in Kenya, we can all make a difference in the lives of these orphaned infants. No matter where you live, I hope you consider fostering an orphaned elephant through DSWT’s Fostering Program. As a foster sponsor, you will become an integral member of the DSWT team, but most importantly, you will experience the joy of knowing that you have made a difference in the life of an innocent orphaned elephant.