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World Elephant Day: Kenyan nursery raises orphaned calves

Kenyan nurse at the Sheldrick WildlifeTrust Nairobi.   -  
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The African forest elephant is critically endangered, while Africa's savanna elephant is endangered.

That's according to the IUCN, which previously grouped the two species together and were classified as vulnerable.

The number of African forest elephants has fallen by more than 86 percent over a 31-year period, while the population of savanna elephants dropped by more than 60 percent over a 50-year period, according to the IUCN, which rates the global extinction risks to the world's animals.

Africa currently has 415,000 elephants, counting the forest and savanna elephants togeth er, according to the IUCN.

At this wildlife trust in Nairobi, Kenya, orphaned calves are raised before being reintroduced into the wild.

"We are protecting them because they have lost their mothers. And they should not have lost their mothers. They should not be orphans. But it has happened," says head keeper Edwin Lusichi.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was founded in 1977, it says over 263 orphans have been successfully raised here.

"We have been able to raise over the years now more than 260 orphaned elephants and rehabilitate them back into the wild so that they can again live a wild life and assimilate back into the wild herds," says chief executive Angela Sheldrick.

The IUCN says both African elephant species have suffered sharp declines since 2008 due to a significant increase in poaching, which peaked in 2011 but continues to threaten populations.

"Thankfully, in the last couple of years, we haven't had terribly many orphaned elephants, you know, poaching is down," says Sheldrick.

"But having said that, we are seeing more and more human-wildlife conflict incidents and very often most of these elephants that we have here today in the nursery are as a result of human-wildlife conflict."

Thursday 12 August marks World Elephant Day, an international event dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world's elephants.

Head keeper Lusichi says every day for them is World Elephant Day.

"We deal with them, we work with them day and night, and so, we need to spread the world to everybody that elephants have the right to life, just like you and me," he says.

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