Elephant sanctuary in Kenya tests goat’s milk as a healthier eating option

SAMBURU, Kenya, October 27 (Reuters) – An elephant orphanage in Kenya is testing goat’s milk as feed for its small herd as a potentially healthier and cheaper form of nutrition than human formula – a solution that calls also money in the pockets of the local community.

The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Samburu County, in the semi-arid scrubland of northern Kenya, is helping save orphaned and abandoned baby calves.

When the elephants are old enough to survive on their own, the sanctuary, founded in 2016, releases them back into the wild.

The sanctuary uses expensive powdered infant milk to feed the calves, but Dr Steven Chege, the facility’s veterinary adviser, told Reuters they have started using goat’s milk formula as a potential substitute. , especially for young calves.

“It’s an animal that may have just lost a mother, they’ve been separated from their family. So they undergo a lot of psychological trauma, it’s a big challenge, which can compromise their health, ”he said. “Goat’s milk is very good for the survival and health of small calves (elephants). was very expensive, he said, and switching to cheaper goat’s milk could lower the feed costs for the sanctuary’s herd, which ranges between 15 and 30 animals.

“Goat’s milk is very high in protein, and not just protein, it is a very digestible protein unlike cow’s milk,” he said, adding that it causes less upset stomach. .

On a recent day, the calves rushed through a dusty pen to take a sip of milk, exposing their budding tusks as they opened their small mouths to take bottles.

Local goat farmer Liwana Lenakuunyia, one of the many farmers selling goat milk at the sanctuary, told Reuters she was happy to get a new source of income. Many of the farmers benefiting from the new program are women.

“Since we started milking the goats and selling the milk at the sanctuary, we have at least our own money with which you can feed your family,” she said.

Reporting by Baz Ratner; written by Elias Biryabarema; edited by Katharine Houreld, William Maclean

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