The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a small, flexible charity, established in 1977 to honor to memory of a famous naturalist, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE. David was the founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. There he served from its inception in 1948 until his transfer to Nairobi in 1976 to head the planning unit of the newly created Wildlife Conservation & Management Department. David died 6 months later but his legacy of excellence and the systems he installed for the management of Tsavo and wildlife lives on. https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/
Charitable Status & How the Trust Operates
Since its inception, the Trust has remained true to his principles and ideals, its modus of operation overseen by 6 competent and well versed Trustees assisted by an Advisory Committee of practical Naturalists with a lifetime experience of wildlife, local environmental conditions and the history of conservation in this country. In 2004 the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust attained US Charitable status enhancing its corporate funding capability under the guidance of the U.S. based Friends of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, all whom work on a voluntary basis. On 9th June 2004 it was incorporated as a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee in the U.K. and granted charitable status by the Charities Commission, its Charity No. 1103836. A Company Limited by Guarantee retains the overall jurisdiction of the Trust’s existing Trustees over the disbursement of funds generated in the U.K.
The Trust’s Conservation Ethics
The Trust has played an extremely significant role in Kenya’s conservation effort since it was founded in 1977, speaking out when necessary on controversial issues and stepping in unobtrusively and rapidly to bridge a gap or meet a shortfall that jeopardizes wildlife during times of Governmental economic constraints. Because in life David Sheldrick strongly censored the extravagance of exorbitant overheads, the Trust places great emphasis on minimal expenditure in this respect, thereby ensuring that donations given in support of wildlife reach their target in full in the most practical and positive manner. The reputation of the Trust is a proud one, as was the record of the man whose name it bears, thanks to the dedication and energy of a competent Staff committed to the example of David Sheldrick as their role model.
Tsavo National Park – The Trust’s Main Focus
The name of Sheldrick and Tsavo are synonymous and it is in Tsavo that the Trust places emphasis. At 8069 sq. miles in extent, the Tsavo National Park is Kenya’s largest wildlife refuge, harboring the country’s single largest population of elephants and a greater biodiversity of species than any other Park in the world, since, by fortunate accident, there the Northern and Southern races of many species merge. Being of low and erratic rainfall, it is arid marginal tsetse infested land easily reduced to desert under domestic stock and as such unsuitable for ranching or agricultural activities. In a country where an expanding human population is making increasing demands on the land, there is no better form of land use for this region than under wildlife. Tourism is a main source of foreign exchange for the country so Tsavo under wildlife is an extremely valuable National resource.
The Park’s very size is its strength, for it is self sustainable and ecologically viable without intrusive human interference of its wild populations, other than to monitor, learn, take heed and better understand Nature’s ways. Indeed Tsavo can boast a proven record in this respect, having weathered devastating droughts and violent flooding, epidemics of rinderpest plus natural population surges and swings triggered by elephant induced vegetational progression, yet its rich biodiversity remains intact, strengthened through accepting natural selection which is a vital tool to distill out imperfections and keep the gene pools pure. Besides harboring most of Kenya’s elephants, and providing the space they need for a quality of life in elephant terms, Tsavo is also home to the last of the great herds of buffalo in Kenya, the rare Hirola, or Hunters hartebeest, the largest population of lions left in Africa and a broad spectrum of other predators in healthy numbers, including the now extremely rare African hunting dogs, striped and spotted hyaenas (under pressure in small sanctuaries) with reported sightings by experienced Naturalists of Brown Hyaenas as well, previously not recorded in this part of the world.