As a child of six, Lente Roode (nee Schürmann) was given an orphaned cheetah cub after a neighboring farmer shot the mother. They called her “Sebeka” and she soon became part of the Schürmann household. Together, Lente and her mother (a nurse) lovingly cared for the animal. Lente and her cheetah were inseparable.
After completing her studies in education, Lente married Johann Roode in 1970.
In 1985, Johann and Lente bought their first farm on the border of her family’s land in Hoedspruit. Lente then inherited her father’s farm. Lente’s longing to be involved on the farm and her need to work with animals developed. The decision to change to game farming became inevitable. Further land was acquired and Kapama Game Reserve, 12 500 ha in extent, came into being.
With the help and guidance of the late Professor David Meltzer of the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science (at the University of Pretoria) and Des Varaday, Lente and Johann Roode planned and developed the infrastructure of the cheetah Centre and built the Hoedspruit Cheetah Project (HCP) within a year. The inclusion of other species into the Centre’s breeding programme necessitated the name change from the HCP to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC).
In the world of conservation in South Africa, few women can match Lente Roode’s passion and commitment. From her pioneering work in the conservation of the cheetah and her contribution to having them removed from the CITES red list of endangered species, to providing a home for a herd of 12 Zimbabwean and 1 orphaned elephant destined for an uncertain future, she has established a measure for conservation in South Africa. From humble beginnings as a child growing up on a farm in the lowveld, Lente Roode’s life was always destined to be one involved with conservation, and the animal kingdom. Through the establishment of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (initially the Hoedspruit Cheetah Project) in 1990, Lente became integrally involved in developing South Africa’s premier research facility for cheetah, which expanded to include the care of other endangered and orphaned animals.
In the New South Africa, she is extending her reach to include the lives of the youth - (especially the previously disadvantaged and under privileged) through an education programme which aims to further awareness, ensuring that the country has excellent conservationists into the future.
The spirit of conservation is transferring from generation to generation within the Roode family. After completing her Honours Degree in Accounting in 1994, Lente’s daughter Adine moved to Hoedspruit where she managed the Kapama Game Reserve. After a 16 month period in the United Kingdom, Adine returned to South Africa in 2003 to focus on the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and Camp Jabulani after her father’s untimely death in 2002. Adine took over the full-time management of Camp Jabulani in 2005. The elephants are her passion, and her fastidious operation of the camp are testament to her dedication to see the elephants flourishing in a suitable environment as close as possible to that they would experience in the wild.