04 Dec 2018 How a Lifelong Passion for Cheetahs led to a lifetime Commitment to Elephants
World Cheetah Day brings an air of sentiment to us, as we take heed of just how instrumental the cheetah species, and Lente Roode’s undying love for them, has been to the existence of Camp Jabulani today.
Many of our lives would be very different had it not been for the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), where our story first began. (Hence taking guests that stay with us, to visit the centre during their stay.)
Our founder, Lente Roode, struck up a special bond with a rescued cheetah that was orphaned, when she was a very young girl. With the help of her mother, they were successful in hand-rearing the cheetah cub named Sebeka. So began the story that led Lente Roode’s late husband, Johann Roode to building a centre for her, committed to cheetah conservation, called the Hoedspruit Cheetah Project (HCP), which opened in 1990.
The years to follow were successful not only in Lente’s cheetah breeding and conservation programme, but also in the care and rehabilitation of various wildlife and many other endangered species. So, the decision was made to rename the centre to Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.
It was here, in 1997, that Jabulani was brought, for care and rehabilitation, having been found badly hurt and dehydrated after getting himself stuck in a mud pool. Sadly, his herd had to give up the fight to get the young elephant calf out of the mud, for the sake of their own survival.
An elephant calf is one of the most delicate animals to hand raise successfully, and he was the first elephant that Lente Roode had cared for. Fortunately he grew into a healthy young elephant.
Many attempts were made to introduce him to the wild herds of Kapama, but sadly, none were successful. Fate had other plans for Jabulani.
A few years later, in 2002, Lente Roode was contacted to assist with the rescue of a herd of elephants in Zimbabwe that faced imminent death. Naturally, Lente agreed, and shortly after, the herd and their carers were brought across the border, into South Africa, and into her care. She was hopeful that they would accept Jabulani, and fortunately they did.
By 2005, a lodge was built, to help sustain the rescued herd financially.
Thirteen years later, Camp Jabulani continues to provide a soulful safari experience for guests to learn more about elephant conservation, whilst contributing to the wellbeing of the herd. The lodge continues to be the lifeline to the herd, but it’s heartbeat lies at HESC.
And it all began with Lente Roode’s passion for cheetahs.
Happy World Cheetah Day.