Eight First Ladies on Sunday extended a rare gesture of love to orphaned baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT).
They simultaneously bottle-fed the elephants as they marveled at their friendliness.
The spouses of Japan, Central Africa Republic, Mauritius, Mali, Somalia, Lesotho and Cote d’ Ivoire Presidents braved a cold morning weather to visit the conservancy at the Nairobi National Park.
This was part of the final lap of their tour of duty in Kenya where they attended a TICAD health symposium.
They were received and hosted at the Trust by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Environment CS Prof Judi Wakhungu, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) director Kitili Mbathi, leading wildlife conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu and the Trust’s officials.
The group was briefed on the efforts made to conserve Kenya’s wildlife and the benefits to the eco-system accruing from the protection of the elephants.
The orphaned baby elephants being rehabilitated at the Trust are usually left destitute by poachers who butcher their mothers leaving the babies at the mercy of nature.
Once the orphaned elephants are weaned and are able to feed themselves, they are rehabilitated back to the wildlife, mainly to Tsavo East and West National Parks.
Besides the elephants, the visitors were also treated to the friendliness of the rhino, warthogs and ostriches.
The host First Lady asked Kenyans to ensure the country’s wildlife is protected as a treasured for its national heritage, financial gains through tourism and environmental conservation.
First Lady Margaret is the patron of the “Hands Off our Elephants” initiative. The DSWT is a charitable organization which re-integrates orphaned baby elephants and those rescued from poachers back to the national parks once they mature or heal (those injured by poachers).
The charity founded in 1977 in memory of conservationist David Sheldrick also assists and advices the KWS over the management and aerial surveillance of the threatened elephants and rhinos.
Later, the First Ladies also visited Kazuri Beads factory in Karen to witness the impact of socially empowered single mothers and their positive role in society.
Kazuri (Kiswahili for “small and beautiful”) manufactures ceramic beads using special clay sourced from the base of mount Kenya and through special heat processing, transforms the raw material into an export commodity.
Senior supervisor John Kung’u, who briefed the First Ladies about all the operations at Kazuri, said the factory has employed 300 single mothers whose work of manufacturing the beads supports thousands of other dependants.
He said 70 per cent of the beads are for the export market in Europe, America and parts of Asia especially Japan.
Kazuri is one of the major sources of beads manufactured in Kenya.