photos by gerry ellis from the david sheldrick wildlife trust, a nursery and orphanage for elephants in kenya’s tsavo east national park. here, fifty five keepers are charged with being around the clock parents to an elephant. the elephants, however, are the ones who chose their caretakers; it is the keepers who must ingratiate themselves to the elephants and earn their trust.

when elephants first arrive at the orphanage they are often traumatized from having witnessed the slaughter of their mothers and family by poachers. grieving can last several months, and they often lose the will to live. but as dame daphne sheldrick, founder of the orphanage, explains, a caretaker is charged with “persuading an elephant to live when it wants to die.”

approximately 35,000 elephants are killed by humans every year. with an estimated 350,000 elephants left in the whole continent of africa, they will be gone in the wild within ten years.

cbc’s the nature of things did a program on the elephants and their caretakers. you can foster an elephant with the david sheldrick wildlife trust online here. for more on the emotional lives of elephants, as well as the david sheldrick wildlife trust and other human efforts to save the animals, check out these posts


the bullet ridden bodies of a silver back alpha male and three females were discovered and removed from the virunga national park in the eastern congo by rangers working with wildlife direct. one female was pregnant, and the other two had babies who, unable to be located, most likely died from stress and dehydration.

the murders are the suspected result of clashes between conservationists and the illegal charcoal industry who rely on the park’s hardwood to make and sell coal fuel. over 100 park rangers have been killed protecting the gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species (there are only 700 left).

andre, an iccn ranger pictured above, is a self described gorilla mother, caring for four gorillas orphaned (one of whom lost a hand) after their families were killed under similar circumstances. despite having a family of his own, andre lives with the gorillas 24/7, describing them as his own children; his own kids refer to the gorillas as their brothers and sisters.

photos by brent stirton


Some tips on how to get the highest reward for an HHA house in Animal Crossing–or at least the way I did it:

I went with the Toy Shop theme because I love most of the items in it.  Arcade stuff, Nintendo, astro and spaceship stuff are all fun.  Plus, toys.  But it’s more difficult than that and with every passing day I’ve have to tinker around to find what worked and what didn’t work.  A good place to start is here:  http://www.thonky.com/animal-crossing-new-leaf/happy-home-academy/ although, I’m going to go through it a little bit more in detail just to help anyone out.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when doing an HHA challenge for a specific theme, but I’m going to be focusing (obviously) on the Toy Shop theme because it’s the only one I’m familiar with.

Exterior: The exterior is an easy way to really pump up your points for theme challenges.  All of the gold stuff is Toy Shop themed so every time I hit one of those milestones I could upgrade to gold for free.  Even though I really wanted to hold onto a fish door, I cut it out just to bump up my score (plus, gold upgrades are free).  This would be a good place to start and I recommend checking Nook’s store every day just to see if there’s anything for your theme.

Feng Shui:  I wasn’t really sure how much feng shui affected your score, but it can really add a lot.  ANY red items go east, any green south, yellow west and orange north.  It’s an additional 300 points for each item in the right spot which doesn’t sound like much, but you really need everything to add up.  Every little bit helps.

Theme-ing your entire house:  This was what finally pushed me over the edge for my score.  I had been hitting 950,000 for a few days and I didn’t know why I couldn’t get my score up anymore.  The guide on Thonky tells you: 

At least 8 things in the same room, and at least 90% of those things have the same theme.  600 points per item

What this means is that I had to cut ANYTHING out of all of my rooms to have the percentage of Toy Shop items jump up to 90%.  I had a cash register in my toy shop room, a turntable in my Nintendo room and a cat tower in my Astro room, not to mention four aurora screens in my Sci-Fi room.  They were all holding me back from tons of points as well as the minimalist tables I had in the toy shop before the astro ones.  Make sure you have a high number of Toy Shop items and cut whatever you can that isn’t in theme!  Very important!

Color bonuses and rare items:  I also adjusted a few things here and there for even more extra points.  My astro room had different (Toy Shop) flooring and wallpaper, but adding the astro wallpaper (even though it doesn’t match color-wise because I painted all of my astro stuff) gave me a bonus and then adding two sapphire-fused furniture items also gave me a bonus for having MORE blue items as well as the sapphire furniture being considered “rare.”

Another little secret is to put everything that can go onto a table ONTO A TABLE.  I don’t know why it matters so much but it does!

I guess this really isn’t that much help but if I’d had these tips earlier I would have saved about a week in trying to figure out what to do.  I hope this helps someone and if you have any questions let me know! :)

My dream address is: 4400.2167.5370 if anyone would like to come and take a look, the house is how it is here and the basement (which is not graded and) which is not pictured here is also viewable there. ;D

Any sharing would be appreciated to, I’d like to help everyone get all the way up to the golden mailbox!