What an Enchanting Life Among Our Elephants cont’d
And yet during their life together (David and Daphne) their selfless journey did not go unnoticed. For their life’s work both David Sheldrick and Daphne Sheldrick were honored by the British government with David being “awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 13 June 1959” (p. 102) and Daphne receiving that same honor, some 30 years later, in 1989. (p.281)
Later still, both Daphne’s first husband, Bill and her brother, Peter would collect their MBE‘s. Daphne was again recognized for her work when “in the Queen’s 1996 New Year’s Honours List she was made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, hitherto to be known as Dame Daphne.” (p.281)
Throughout their lives David and Daphne Sheldrick were blessed. And as Daphne’s “Granny Webb always predicted, a door miraculously opened” (p.267) whenever they were struggling for direction or needed help.
Now, many times “over the years” Daphne may have “wished she had chosen an easier path” (p.284) but it has only been because of the very real grief she has felt when one of the elephants or any animal close to her heart has died. Daphne’s only consolation has been knowing that the elephants, upon their passing, would somehow “find David at the other side to be there for them”. (p.284)
Daphne has also found comfort through her grief by looking to the elephants. For what would a “wild elephant matriarch” do but choose to carry on. And elephants face sorrow “every step of their long and difficult lives”. Elephants live, they grieve, and “they find the courage to turn the page”. (p.284) What a beautiful example for humans, who face the same life challenges, to emulate.
By the continued efforts of his widow Daphne and his daughter Angela, who operate the premier elephant orphanage today, we see the fruits of David’s labor. Many of the techniques he pioneered as a wildlife warden and standards he set as a wildlife conservationist still live on today. Then again one cannot imagine our elephants being protected and nurtured (along with her devoted staff) by any other human.
Dame Daphne Sheldrick was chosen to care for our elephants by more than mere coincidence and we are forever grateful to her for devoting her life to not just any cause. And most importantly, our elephants couldn’t thank you more!
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Today
“And because elephants never forget, it is essential that they be treated only with love and kindness. None of our keepers carries even a twig, but instead they control their charges by tone of voice, the waggling of a finger and, only if absolutely necessary, a sharp disapproving shove to demonstrate displeasure over bad behavior.” (p.307)
Kindness begets kindness and our elephants so deserve this. And as Dame Daphne Sheldrick has said, David would be so proud; oh, he would be so proud.
Images: Creative Commons Google: Book Cover / Featured image; CC Flickr: DSWT baby elephants playing with stick
To be continued: Love, Life, and Elephants : An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick: Book Review Essay Part 3 : Meet the Elephants!