By Jamie Smith
These heart warming images show the incredible bond between a group of elephant keepers and the animals they look after.
Taken at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, the photos show the human carers looking after a group of orphaned elephants as they explore their surroundings.
Keepers replicate the family structure that the elephants lost when they were orphaned, which is vital for them to thrive until they are old enough to reintegrate into wild populations.
Rob Brandford, Executive Director of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust said: “It will be many years before these orphans will be independent of their Keepers, after all they are still babies, needing their milk, guidance, teaching and mentorship, before they are ready to ‘fly the nest’ which usually occurs when orphans are around the age of ten.
“In the meantime, they are positioned in a beautiful place where their days can be filled with important interactions with wild herds.
One of the images in the sequence shows orphan Mapia enjoying a tender moment with another orphaned calf.
Rob said: “As sensitive and tactile creatures, elephants are very touchy-feely. They use physical contact to communicate and bond with one another and you’ll often see them “chatting” by purposefully touching each other, using their trunk, tusks, tail and even their entire body.”