Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick

A Book Review

Thank you, Nicster, for another book that turned out to be an amazing read.

This book is for anyone who loves animals; true stories of how humans can prevail and show incredible compassion. It is a story well written by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. She walks the reader through her life, giving great history to how her British roots ended up in Africa. She shares how her people showed incredible resilience, even in the toughest of circumstances and an unforgiving climate. She is honest and open about her life, in both love and life in the African  wilderness. Her family had to overcome unbelievable obstacles with local tribes, laws that changed by the day and a government that left them to fend for themselves, after selling her ancestors, along with many British families, parcels of land to encourage migration into Africa. Instead of running back to their homeland, they stayed and they survived, but it was not easy. Along with hardships, and political unrest, they persevered and had children, who later had families of their own. Because of their steadfast beliefs and hard work, came Daphne and her selfless life giving back to the wild, saving not only elephants, but rhinos, eland, giraffes and everything in between. She gave with her entire soul, loving every creature that came into her life, grieving those she lost along the way. It was not easy, unfortunately many infants in her early animal husbandry days did not make it because it was trial and error and instead of giving up, she continued tweaking the recipes for formula until she found the correct scientific equation. It was heartbreaking to read her despair for each loss, but her never-ending vitality and her unstoppable force in finding the save all was awe inspiring. Unfortunately, the elephant babies needed a specific formula unlike the rest of the animal kingdom so there were a lot of little ones that died in the experimenting phase and because of them, they now have an amazing orphanage for not only elephants, but any animal who has lost their families to poaching, droughts and human conflicts with farmers. She recently died from breast cancer but her children and staff will carry on her legacy for generations to come.

On another note, I must also add that those she sought to employ were from local tribes and many have been with the David Sheldrick Foundation for decades. They know the land, the surrounding people and they are able to venture into the wilderness and survive the harsh climate while they take care of each orphan animal. They are a family, both in the human sense and in the animal kingdom. Many orphans who “graduate” to the reintegration unit and then later into the wild come back to visit their human families whom they regard as their parents. It is both heartbreaking and uplifting in many ways. 

It is a book that I would recommend.