The family of one of the worlds leading elephant-conservation pioneers have pledged that her legacy will live on for generations to come following her death.
Wildlife lovers around the world are mourning the passing of Dame Daphne Sheldrick MBE, founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), who dedicated her life to saving young elephants and rhinos and pioneered ways to rear newborn animals by hand.
Thousands of tributes from across the globe poured in to the Kenya-basedcharity, which describes itself as today the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.
Dame Daphne, 83, had been suffering from breast cancer.
Her daughter, Angela, who has run DSWT for 17 years, wrote on the trusts website: It is all very raw but I must share with you the passing of my incredible mother, Daphne Sheldrick. What an example she was to us all, and I feel blessed to have been able to call her my Mum because she was quite simply one of a kind. She was a national treasure and a conservation icon.
The trust added: Her legacy is immeasurable and lives on in the tiny steps of baby elephants for generations to come.
Dame Daphnes work raised the global profile of conservation concerns, and her special bottled milk formulacreated to raise orphaned elephantsled to more than 230 baby pachyderms being saved in Kenya as well as countless others in Africa and India.
Two years ago, she warned that if poaching for ivory continued at the same rate, African forest elephants the smallest of the three elephant species could be extinct by 2025.
The trusts work featured in television programmes including the BBCs Elephant Diaries, 60 minutes – The Orphanage on CBS, and Canadian documentary For the Love of Elephants. Dame Daphnes books included her 2012 autobiography Love, Life and Elephants – An African Love Story.
Dame Daphne founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 1977in honour of the memory of her late husband, who founded Tsavo East National Park.
Angela Sheldrick said the difference her mother made for conservation in Kenya was unparalleled. This is what Daphne drew the most comfort from in her final weeks: knowing that her memory and work would continue with the tiny steps of baby elephants for generations to come and that the work that she pioneered has been able to achieve so much for wildlife and wild places throughout Kenya. She died knowing that she will continue to make a difference each and every day.
Trustees said they were grateful for the numerous condolences.
We are so deeply touched and moved by the thousands of comments we have received over the past few hours, sharing your condolences, your stories of Dame Daphne and the many ways in which our matriarch inspired people from all corners of the globe, they tweeted.
The Jane Goodall Institute paid tribute to a much beloved voice for elephants and Kaddu Sebunya, president of the African Wildlife Foundation, wrote: Her determination, courage & commitment to #wildlifeconservation are qualities that should be replicated in her honour to ensure that Africas wildlife survives.