Our model of elephant care
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.
The elephants are trained by a reward system rather than forcing authority through physical abuse. Five baby elephants were born at Camp Jabulani – a sure sign that these gentle giants are happy (they will not breed if traumatised and stressed). 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.
Only five of the elephants in the herd are currently used for elephant back safaris twice a day (an hour each shift) and for the rest of the day they are allowed to forage in the wild. Elephant-back safaris are currently being phased out completely, and effective 01 April 2017 will no longer be available.
In the evenings they 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 training or 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.