The Animal Survival International (formerly Political Animal Lobby) and its sister organisation, Network for Animals, have joined animal welfare organisations from around the world in paying tribute to conservationist Daphne Sheldrick who dedicated over 60 years of her life to the protection of Africa’s wildlife.
“Daphne was a giant among animal lovers,” said David Barritt, NFA campaign director and a spokesperson for ASI.
“We honour her life’s work and we pledge to continue doing everything in our power to protect the wild animals and wild places of Africa.”
Sheldrick, the founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), died last week after a long battle with breast cancer, her family said. Breaking the news to the world, Angela Sheldrick, her daughter, said her legacy will live on.
“Daphne’s legacy is immeasurable and her passing will reverberate far and wide, because the difference she has made for conservation in Kenya is unparalleled. She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten and this is what Daphne drew the most comfort from in her final weeks, knowing that her memory and work would continue with the tiny steps of baby elephants for generations to come,” said Angela.
Sheldrick was born in Kenya in 1934 and alongside her husband David, worked to protect Africa’s wildlife and some of the world’s most iconic and threatened animals. When David died in 1977, she founded the DSWT and over the next 40 years, she played a key role in raising awareness of the conservation of elephants and rhinos.
Sheldrick was the first person to successfully hand raise a milk dependent new born elephants, thereby helping to save the lives of more than 230 elephants − many of which had lost their mothers to poachers or drought. This knowledge helped to save the lives of countless other orphaned animals in African countries other than Kenya.
In 2016, Sheldrick warned that if the rate of ivory poaching continued, African forest elephants − the smallest of the three African elephant species − could be extinct as early as 2025. She published several books and was featured in many television programmes and films, including the 2011 documentary Born to be Wild. In 2006, Queen Elizabeth made her a dame.