Tuesday, November 13, 2012

rhinos and baby elephants!

About a week ago we got back from our second expedition. This time we went to Lake Nakuru National Park. This is a park that is based around Lake Nakuru that was filled with cichlid fish which attracted a variety of fish-eating birds. Within the fenced park there are also rhinos, a lot of buffalo, lions, zebra, giraffes, baboons, colobus monkeys, a variety of ungulates and other animals. Here I got to see quite a few black and white rhinos for the first time since I have been to Africa. This trip was a lot like the Serengeti: full of learning about the park and animals within and lots of game driving time. Yet, there was a big difference: it rained every day that we were in Nakuru, marking the beginning of the short rainy season in Kenya. Yet, we were up for game driving in rain or shine. We put our rain coats on and headed out to see some wildlife.
For a few weeks now we have known that going to an elephant orphanage in Nairobi is a possibility and I was hopeful that this fantasy of seeing baby elephants up-close could come true. The day that we left the park we had a chance to go to the elephant orphanage called David Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust if we were ready in time and if there wasn’t too much traffic when passing by Nairobi. So after our 6am breakfast, we all rolled our sleeves up to hurriedly pack our hostel into the Rhino (the truck that carries all kitchen supplies and suitcases on expeditions) and head out of Nakuru. The orphanage is open to the public from 11am-noon, so it all depended on the traffic whether we would make it on time. The whole ride there, I sat in the front of the car excitedly biting my nails as the others in the car kept repeating that there was no way that we would make it. After what felt like an eternity of zigzagging in and out of traffic, we turned off the main road and yes, we were heading to the elephant orphanage!
Our car got there at 11:15, so I ran through the parking lot to the place where we can see the elephants eating and hear one of the handlers talk about the history of the orphanage. The orphanage’s objective is to take in young elephants that have lost their mothers and raise them until they are old enough to be released into the wild and join another herd of elephants. There were about 15 elephants there munching on tree branches and being oh so very cute. The baby elephants were so perfect and wrinkly! Then one walked towards the fence that separated them from us and we were able to touch their wrinkly goodness! They were surprisingly rough and had wiry hairs that scratched my hand. I was so happy and fortunate to be able to touch one of the most amazing animals in Africa.

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