To be a baby elephant must be wonderful. Surrounded by a loving family 24 hours a day. Touched by the family, cuddled and comforted. A tremendous love and passion exuded by every family member. I think it must be how it ought to be, in a perfect world. – Daphne Sheldrick

Yesterday the elephants of African lost one of their greatest champions, as conservation icon Dame Daphne Sheldrick passed away, age 83.


Photo Credit: The Star, Kenya

World famous for her work in raising elephant orphans, Daphne founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya in 1977 in honour of her late husband, the founding warden of Kenya’s Tsavo National Park. The DSWT is today the most successful rescue and rehabilitation program for orphan elephants in the world, and continues to pioneer the fields of wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.

The milk of wild elephants is an almost impossible substance to substitute, so specific is it to various antigens and chemical compounds contained in the wild plants on which elephants feed. It took Daphne Sheldrick 23 years to develop a viable formula to substitute for their mother’s milk which she could feed to the orphan elephant calves she was raising, and to this date, over 230 elephants have been successfully reared by the trust in Kenya alone.


Photo Credit: BBC Africa

The honours heaped upon Daphne were many, starting with the awarding of an MBE in 1989 by Queen Elizabeth and culminating in her appointment to Dame Commander of the most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the 2006 New Years Honours List, which was the first knighthood to be awarded in Kenya since the country achieved independence in 1963.

It is impossible to convey fully in a simple post the dedication, love, and strength with which Daphne approached her life in conservation, but the legacy she leaves behind is testament enough.

Daphne will be greatly missed by the millions she inspired around the world and the thousands of people she worked with over the years.

Daphne Archive Small3

Photo Credit: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

In the words of her daughter, Angela Sheldrick: ” She died knowing that she will continue to make a difference each and every day upon a land that she held so dear to her heart through the work of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, thanks to a dedicated team she leaves behind… What a gift she leaves us all with, as she really is a shining example of the finest of humanity.”

Dame Daphne Sheldrick; Kenyan wildlife’s matriarch.

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

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on A Tribute to Dame Daphne Sheldrick (1934 – 2018)

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Joanne Wadsworth

The light of her impact can never be dimmed.

Jennifer Ridgewell

James – another beautiful tribute to an exceptional human being. RIP Daphne Sheldrick and thank you.

Jill Larone

This great lady, humanitarian and protector of Africa’s Elephants will be greatly missed. What an incredible legacy she has the world.

Deb Kohlenstein

Thank you for the tribute to Dame Sheldrick. I am midway through her book Love, Life and Elephants. What an amazing woman!

Darlene Knott

Rest In Peace, Daphne Sheldrick! You affected this earth as few do. God bless you. Heaven has a new and beautiful angel!

Ian Hall

I once asked which wildlife charity I should leave a bequest to in my will. The David Sheldrick Trust was my hosts immediate reply, the money will be directly spent and Daphne Sheldrick was the sort of person who got her hands dirty and wouldn’t waste the money. Going to see the orphanage in Nairobi in less than six months.

James Tyrrell

Hi Ian, that’s great to hear. Would love to visit there myself!

Denise Vouri

She will truly be missed for her passion and energy in the quest to provide orphaned elephants a safe environment in which to grow and socialize. One more star has been added to the sky…….Dame Daphne.

Andrea Mc Donagh

An absolute legend of a lady may she r.i.p.xx

Iren Juppa

An admirable woman. RIP
Her life proves exactly how much extraordinary good one person can do.

James Tyrrell

Thanks for the comments everyone.
Daphne Sheldrick was a truly remarkable woman, whose legacy thankfully, will live on through the DSWT.


Wow, may her legacy and work continue through others always.

Linda Polley

She truly was an exceptional woman. I remember reading about her life and am saddened to hear she has passed, but her legacy will live on.

Wendy Hawkins

Thank you James, a very beautiful tribute to an amazing Lady! RIP Dame Daphne Sheldrick & may the elephants always be with you in spirit!

Callum Evans

I was so upset when I saw this on the news. Daphne Sheldrick was such an inspiration to me, with her stories from her life in Tsavo and the heroic work that she pioneered with the elephant orphange. There are hundreds of elephants roaming free in Tsavo, from Ithumba to the Chylolo Hills, because the work she has done. She gave them a second chance. She touched the lives of so many people and faced impossible odds and overcame them with the strength of any elephant matriarch. Farewell Dame Daphne Sheldrick, your legacy will live on.

Marinda Drake

She was a great pioneer and inspiration to conservation.

Callum Evans

If anybody wants to know more about the wild life she led, you need to read ‘Love, Life and Elephants’.

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