As far as mammals go, there aren’t many that are as emotionally developed as elephants. In fact, they are able to form tight bonds even with human beings. In Kenya, the elephant population is under attack from poachers looking kill elephants for their ivory tusks. Aside from the obvious threat to the population from poachers, the death of a mother elephant often means the death of her baby elephants within 24 to 48 hours. This is because that is how long a baby elephant can survive without milk.
This makes the job of rescuers all the more tenuous. They must first locate the orphaned elephants and then air lift them or otherwise transport them to a refuge where they can be fed. Once they are nourished, the hard part begins: raising them to be independent. These special caregivers train the elephants to do simple things like cover their hides with dust to keep the sunlight from harming their skin.
When it comes to sleeping at night, a human sleeps alongside the baby elephant so that they maintain constant contact. This is essential to the elephants as they are very social creatures. At this particular elephant orphanage, the Englishwoman who runs the facility has made their care a lifelong labor of love.
She’s been caring for baby elephants for over five decades. Still, she weeps whenever a baby elephant dies. At the same time, she says there is little time to mourn a loss because new orphaned elephants are always arriving at the facility.