15 Dec 2015 A tribute to Paul Coetsee, by Adine Roode
It is with great sadness that I relay the news of the passing of Paul Coetsee, Camp Jabulani’s former Elephant Manager. Paul peacefully exited this world in his sleep on 06 December 2015. A remarkable and much loved man, Paul had countless stories and experiences which he enjoyed sharing with our guests. You could tell just by looking at his hands and legs that he had lived his life fully. His many scars told countless stories from many moons back. He stepped down as Elephant Manager in 2010.
Paul was born on the 13th of February 1935 in Fort Victoria in what was then called Rhodesia (now known as Masvingo, Zimbabwe). Having spent much of his life in the bush, he took up the position as manager of the Camp Jabulani Elephants in 2004. Paul was a very gentle man, and spoke with the ultimate fondness when the subject on his tongue was ‘his’ elephants.
Paul would often tell me how handlers played the most important role in an elephant’s life. Spending most of every day together, bonds are formed that no other human can understand. “Being an Elephant Master isn’t all sunshine and roses”, he would say, “it takes hard work and dedication!”. This was something he knew all about. A slight and wiry man with silver hair and a naughty twinkle in his eye, he stood out for hundreds of guests visiting the lodge. Especially the ladies!
Paul was a man with a big heart and an indescribable love of elephants. He will be missed, but his memories will live on in the hearts and minds of all of us at Camp Jabulani.
MD of Camp Jabulani