AN INTERVIEW WITH DAME SHELDRICK
BP:As a young girl growing up in Kenya, were you always interested in wildlife conservation? Or did this interest develop after you met your husband David?
DS:I GREW UP ON A HIGHLAND FARM AND HAD MY FIRST ORPHANED WILD ANIMAL AT ABOUT THE AGE OF 3 OR 4. HOLIDAYS WERE ALWAYS SPENT UNDER A CANVAS IN THE BUSH. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PASSIONATE ABOUT WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND THE NATURAL WORLD IN GENERAL.
BP:What has been the most rewarding experience of your lifetime in wildlife conservation?
DS:THERE HAVE BEEN MANY BUT PERHAPS WHEN OUR FIRST HAND REARED NEWBORN ELEPHANT BROUGH HER WILD BORN BABY BACK TO SHOW HER HUMAN FAMILY.
BP:What do you see as the greatest threat to the wildlife of Kenya in the future, and what measures can the Trust take to protect the future of the wildlife?
DS:THE GREATEST THREAT TO WILDLIFE IS CORRUPTION AND GREED FOR MONEY. ONE CAN ONLY DO ONES BEST AND THAT’S WHAT WE DO.
BP:In what capacity does the Trust involve the local people in its work?
DS:WE EMPLOY OVER 200 PEOPLE AND HAVE A COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAM TO PROMOTE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN RURAL SCHOOLS ALONG THE BOUNDARIES OF TSAVO.
BP:What were the initial goals of the Trust, and have these goals changed over the years?
DS:THE GOAL OF THE TRUST IS WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND THE PROTECTION OF THE NATURAL WORLD AND THESE GOALS REMAIN.
BP:Is there one particular baby elephant or rhino that stands out in your memory over the years?
DS:WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY REARED OVER 200 INFANT ELEPHANTS AND ABOUT 14-15 INFANT BLACK RHINO CALVES. EACH ONE HAS A UNIQUE PERSONALITY OF ITS OWN AND HAS BEEN VERY SPECIAL TO US.
BP:Do you allow volunteers to work with animals?
DS:NO WE DO NOT TAKE ON ANY VOLUNTEERS TO WORK WITH THE ORPHANS.
BP:Do you feel that poaching is still as big an issue as it was in the 1980’s?
DS:YES, BECAUSE MORE ELEPHANTS ARE DYING DAILY THAN ARE BEING BORN AND THE SPECIES FACES EXTINCTION DUE TO THE IVORY TRADE.
BP:How has conservation in Kenya changed since you first became involved with the Trust?