DSWT elephant human interaction

While we were in Kenya, we spent a few days in Nairobi, Kenya. Before going to Kenya, I researched a bit on what there is to do in Nairobi. One thing that came up right away was the Giraffe Center and the Giraffe Manor. While I don’t really have the money to afford a night at the Giraffe Manor (around 500€ per night), the Giraffe Center was a great alternative. I only found out about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust a few days later but once I saw it, I knew that I had to go there, no matter what.
Since it was also my moms 50th birthday shortly before we were flying to Kenya and she totally adores Elephants, I thought it would be really cool to surprise her with a trip to the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi and the chance of fostering an elephant. Until we got there she did not know that it existed or where I would take her (but more about that later).

Fostering an elephant at the DSWT in Nairobi

The Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi is pretty close to the Giraffe Center but I would not recommend walking since there are not many signs that would show you the way. I actually found out about this orphanage due to another blog I read about this girl’s visit to Nairobi and when I read it, I knew, I had to go there, no matter what.
My mom is a total fan of elephants and since it was her 50th birthday just before this trip, I thought it would be a fun surprise for her and I also wanted her to choose an elephant to foster for a year. Luckily, the surprise went pretty well and she didn’t expect anything or even knew about it until we arrived and saw the first baby elephants.

Small elephant

The DSWT was founded in 1977 by Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E and is now “the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world”.
In Africa, there is still a lot of poaching and hunting going on. People are still interested in ivory and kill elephants just to get the tusks. It’s such a sad and miserable way for those elephants to die and sometimes their children stay behind and are not able to take care of themselves. That’s where the DSWT steps in and takes care of the elephants to be able to release them back into the wild after a few years.
It was always quite painful to see those animals knowing that they do not have a mother anymore and probably had to go through so much misery before they were rescued.

If you follow the DSWT on Facebook you will actually get to read a couple of nice and heartwarming stories where they got to save elephants and how they have developed over time.

Girl and small elephant playing

There are two set times each day where you can go to the DSWT. The opening hours for visitors are 11 am to noon. That is the time where basically anyone can visit. You simply have to pay/donate 500 KES (11$) – keep in mind that they only accept cash! You will then be able to see the daily mud bath and feeding of the baby elephants.
If you want to foster an elephant or are already a foster parent you also have the option to visit at 5 pm. However, here you have to make an appointment in advance because there is limited space for visitors.
Since we wanted to foster an elephant, we made an appointment for 5 pm. We were maybe a group of 20 people and got to see the elephants come back from their daily trip to the National Park. This experience was amazing and super adorable. One employee also gave us more information about the DSWT and the different elephants and other animals they take care of. One of them is a blind black rhino that they cannot release back in the wild anymore since he cannot see and therefore not defend his territory.

Elephants coming back to DSWT

After all the little elephants went back into their little homes, we got to walk around and play with the elephants (if they let us). I told my mom to then pick the elephant that she wanted to foster. First, the decision seemed to be pretty tough because every elephant seemed cute and loving. But then we walked past this one little home and something amazing happened. This little elephant called Ndotto struck his trunk out and started smelling my green pants. In that moment we all kind of knew that this was the elephant we wanted to foster. Ndotto played with us for a while and we got to take a lot of pictures. I still don’t know why he loved my green pants so much but apparently, it was a good choice buying them!

Elephant sniffing woman pants at DSWT Playful elephant at DSWT

Fostering an elephant at the DSWT is definitely a great way to help save elephants and it is also a great experience when you visit the Orphanage. I would definitely go back when I am in Nairobi.
Check out my other blog posts about my visit to Kenya – Click here.

Have you visited the DSWT before?
Did you also think about fostering an elephant?
Let me know in the comments below!

Hello, I am Denise - I am a passionate world explorer and moved to Seoul, South Korea in 2022. Going on adventures, learning about new cultures, and practicing my photography skills are just some of my passions. Let me take you on an adventure around the world!


  • Odette

    November 11, 2017

    Oh such beautiful animals, especially from so close, must have been an amazing experience! Will definitely pin this for later!

  • November 11, 2017

    I’ve never been to Nairobi but this looks like a very rewarding place to visit. It’s kind of sad to see the elephants behind bars but are they just there to sleep until they’re ready for release? I’d love to know!

  • November 11, 2017

    I watched Fun For Louis’ YouTube video on the elephant orphanage and it looks like they’re doing GREAT work! I’m a travel blogging wildlife biologist so this post is right up my alley lol

  • December 5, 2018

    thank you very much for your information. I am now going to donate to foster an elephant.

  • January 20, 2019

    I have downloaded the application to sponcer a “big” beautiful baby. I told a few of my friends , lets not exchange Christmas gifts this year. We are putting it in to the Sheldrick foundation.My bucket list , is to visit there ….


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