The elephant herd from Camp Jabulani comprise the namesake of the herd, Jabulani, as well as elephants originally from Zimbabwe (saved by Lente Roode when war veterans took over the farm belonging to their caregiver). There is no doubt that the animals would have been killed had the team from HESC not orchestrated a massive rescue operation.
Camp Jabulani’s proudest achievement doesn’t only lie in the successful rescue of a herd of orphaned elephants in 1996 from strife-torn Zimbabwe, nor in the the intensive rehabilitation of tiny elephant calf, Jabulani (who is also the namesake of the herd). Our success rather lies in our dedicated 20-year journey through which invaluable experience has been gained, enabling us to evolve and refine a successful model of rescued elephant care, with specific focus on infant rehabilitation.
The unique background of the rescued elephants resulted in the establishment of a positive atypical family structure for the Jabulani herd. There are strong ties between both male and female animals, and clearly established matriarchs have assumed responsibility for all infants – their own (5 babies were born to the herd), as well as new orphans. A number of babies have arrived over the last five years, and they’ve been successfully introduced to the herd with minimal human intervention. We’ve come to realize that the Jabulani rescued elephants themselves are the perfect solution, and have plans into the future to continue to help to rescue and rehabilitate elephants in need. Lente also established an elephant advisory committee consisting of veterinary surgeons and other experts in the field in a quest to ensure that everything possible is done to ensure their wellbeing.
In the evenings the elephants are kept in stables (probably the best in the world) with plenty of food and water (in fact, some of the wild elephants in the area would evidently prefer to get access to the stables if their nightly visits are anything to go by). Above all else, the will of the elephant is always respected.
Some important points:
- We do not advocate removing an elephant (or any wild animal) from its natural habitat for the purpose of entertainment.
- We do however know that animals which have been reared by human hands are seldom able to integrate back in the wild.
- We found ourselves with a herd of elephants (including Jabulani, the orphaned baby, and the Zimbabwean elephants). We could not turn them away or release them into the wild. We had to pick up where another human intervention had left off. We did the only thing possible, and created a self-sustaining environment which would enable us to meet the massive costs of their care.