Last night, I fell down a bit of a YouTube documentary-watching hole. Does that ever happen to you? I bet it does.
One of the best things I watched was a short film about Daphne Sheldrick.
Daphne is a conservationist, author and animal lover. Born in Kenya, she and her late husband David have worked together to study and care for African animals for most of their lives.
Initially based in Tsavo National Park in Kenya, Daphne successfully perfected the milk formula and correct care to raise orphaned baby elephants and rhinos. She has rehabilitated and raised countless wild animals, setting up the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi National Park in honour of her (now late) husband and establishing the Orphans Project to hand raise baby elephants and rhinos who have lost their mothers due to poaching and other environmental factors.
In the doco, Daphne talks about the importance of family, companionship, community and connection to elephants’ wellbeing.
You might already know that this is something I am super interested in, in the human world, and it was pretty interesting to find out more about the way elephant happiness works too.
I’m reading Atul Gawande’s book about growing older, happiness and community (it’s called Being Mortal.) In his book Gawande talks a lot about how purpose, connection and place increase happiness and life quality/life span in the elderly. Of course, it’s not just the elderly who benefit from these things.
If we honed in on the most important stuff, earlier in life – simplicity, community, family, friendship, contributing, connection, sincerity, joy, clarity – we’d be a lot more chipper from the get-go.
Elephants know this stuff inside and out, apparently. Animals are sensible like that.
Daphne’s work – with her husband David Sheldrick – is not only ridiculously important for animal wellbeing, research and conservation – it’s a reminder to us all about what’s truly important.
Even if you’re not an elephant.
You can read an excerpt from Daphne’s memoir here or buy it here.
Find out about ‘The Elephant Diaries’ – the BBC production about Daphne and David’s work here.
Find out more about the iMax documentary ‘Born to Be Wild’ here.
All photos are via the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.