Passion for preserving Africa’s beautiful elephants

Elephant Havens is Botswana’s only elephant orphanage. Our YPA founders’ Nick and Ashley were fortunate enough to visit the orphanage recently, and they were astounded by the incredible work the organization is doing to preserve the African elephant by rescuing orphaned and abandoned babies.

They caught up with Elephant Havens’ co-founder and Elephant & Operations Manager, Boago (“Bee”) Poloko, to understand what the challenges are and learn more about the organization’s most recent rescue.

Sandy’s rescue story

“We got a call from the local Shorobe community, telling us that there was a small baby elephant wandering near the Gomoti River Lodge and the Shokomoka North settlement. It’s not far from Elephant Havens and we immediately set off in search of him,” Bee recalls.

“His mother had been shot and killed by humans, and we found him close to his mother’s body. After his mother died, a lion had attacked him, and we found deep claw marks on his hindquarters. He was thin and malnourished (so much so that we could see his ribs), and he was also suffering from dehydration because October is one of the hottest months in the Okavango Delta area.”

“When Sandy arrived at Elephant Havens, our vet, Dr. Comfort, quickly attended to his wounds, which have healed nicely. In just a few short weeks since joining us, little Sandy is thriving. Love from the handlers, good food, and proper medical attention has done wonders for this baby boy. And the other babies have given him a warm welcome, too. They are thrilled to have a new baby to attend to and play with.”

Where does Sandy’s name come from?

Elephant Havens named Sandy in honor of our great friend, supporter and well-known author, Alexander McCall Smith. He was so moved by the story of Elephant Havens that he incorporated the plight of an orphaned baby elephant into his most recent novel in the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, How to Raise an Elephant.

How much does it cost to support Sandy every month?

Keeping a baby elephant fed and healthy costs around $4 500 a month. This includes the elephant’s milk, vet fees, and the salary for the baby’s human caretaker. Orphans need bottle feedings every three hours to survive, so the labor to care for them is a full-time occupation.

Why is donor support so vital?

30% of Africa’s elephants have been lost since 2007, leaving behind thousands of orphans. Elephant Havens currently has 21 babies that they’re taking care of on a daily basis, excluding the seven babies they have in the soft release area.

We hope that you’re as inspired as we were by the incredibly intensive rescue work that Elephant Havens does. There’s only so much we can do from afar, but raising awareness around the African elephant’s plight is a great starting point, as is making a contribution to foster a little baby for yourself or as a gift for someone special.

For just $100 annually, donors receive a foster certificate with the name, photo and details of the orphan they’re supporting, as well as updates on their care and progress. For more information, visit How to Foster – Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation.


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