the-handlers

The Handlers

The first time I saw the elephants I felt a connection to them and that’s when I knew that this was my destiny. (Tigere Matipedza, Elephant Manager)

Camp Jabulani has a total of 42 team members taking care of the elephant herd, including grooms, stable hands and elephant master.

The grooms are dedicated to the elephants, which is clearly evident in their gentle, yet firm, approach to their charges. Most of the team hails from Zimbabwe, which is the original home of all the elephants, with the exception of Jabulani, and the calves born at Camp Jabulani.

ELEPHANT MANAGERS

Tigere Matipedza

Tigere Matipedza

I enjoy every moment spent with the elephants, especially Jabulani – because of his brilliance. I liken elephants to good people because they listen, and I feel as though they lead me into a peaceful world of my own.I’m a married father of two, a boy and a girl. I started working in 1996 at the age of 18 as an elephant stable cleaner in Zimbabwe, and my job was to ensure that the elephants were well taken care of. By the time I was 22, I was fully involved in the running of the elephant stables.

My love for elephants grows deeper every day, as I wake up and find myself surrounded by these magnificent creatures. This makes me so grateful for the life that God has given me. I truly feel that I was destined for this.

I appreciate how the elephants have accepted me into their world.

Isaac Mothole

Isaac Mathole

Born: 1979

Origin:   Akornhoek, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Camp Jabulani: Since 2002

Family: I have a wife and two children (son and daughter).

Background: I started working with elephants in 2002 here at Camp Jabulani. I worked with different managers as an elephant handler and enjoyed my work every day.

Favourite part of the job: Meeting with different people from all over the world. I like watching the youngsters playing with each other. I enjoy the training of the elephants every morning, walking with them while they are feeding, elephant back safaris (especially night walks) and tracking with Somapane and Jabulani.  I also like interacting with the young elephants and enjoy observing their behaviour.

Favourite elephant & why: Mupfuri. He is very intelligent, learns quickly and is so strong.

SENIOR HANDLERS

The handlers, Joshua Dube

Joshua Dube

Born: 1962

Origin: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

Family: I have a wife and 6 children (5 sons 1 daughter).

Level: 4

Background: I started working with elephants in Zimbabwe, and started working at Camp Jabulani in April 2002 (together with Stavros). I grew up in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe and started working with elephants in 1987. I left my family back home to join Camp Jabulani, along with my friend Stavros, in April 2002. In 2007 I brought my son, Emanuel Dube, to Camp Jabulani. He loved it so much he did not want to go back home, and we are still working together here at Camp Jabulani.

Favourite part of the job: Working with elephants is something that fascinates me tremendously. I enjoy learning about them all the time. I recognise some of their language by now. I never want to stop learning about them. I could write a book about them.

Favourite elephant(s) and why: Jabulani because he is ‘half-human and half-elephant’; Sebakwe because he’s such a star – everything he does, he does well; and Bubi because she’s calm and relaxed – one could do anything with her.

Click here to read more about Joshua.


The handlers, Stavros Chakoma

Stavros Chakoma

Born: 1952

Origin: Harare, Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: April 2002.

Level: 4

Family: I have a wife and 6 children (5 sons 1 daughter).

Background: In 1995 I started working with wild horses in  Zimbabwe and got an opportunity to work with elephants in 1998, while still in Zimbabwe. In 2005 I brought my son, Kaswed Friday, with me. He had such an excellent experience for him, and today works with me at here at Camp Jabulani as part of our team.

Favourite part of the job: I enjoy walking with the elephants, from the morning that we leave the stables, walking with them while they are feeding, walking with them to the dam, walking with them during elephant back safaris, I just cannot get enough of it. I am happy to be with them every second of my day.

Favourite elephant & why: Somapane – he’s clever and exceptionally good with scent tracking; Sebakwe – has a good personality; Tokwe – is a caring mother; and Jabulani – he’s attentive and does everything he is told.

Click here to get to read more about Stavros.


Israel Shambira

Born: 1969

Origin: Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: Since 2002

Level: 4

Family: I am married to Susan and have three daughters (Rumbidza, Charity and Melody) and one son (Solomon). My family lives in Zimbabwe. I’m fortunate to work with my younger brother, Kenneth, here at Camp Jabulani.

Background: I grew up in Chishe, a village near Grendale in Mashonaland. I first worked with elephants and wildlife in 1998 at Dombawera Game Park. Later that same year I moved to Braeside farm near Chinoyi, when the trained elephants I was working with were taken over by Rory Hensman.

In 2002 I moved to Camp Jabulani when the Elephants came to South Africa and have been here ever since.

Favourite part of the job: All activities with the elephants.

Favourite elephant & why: Somapani – he’s the cleverest of them all.


Reuben Kamupande (Assistant Senior Handler)

Born: 1981

Origin: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

Family: I have a wife and three daughters.

Favourite part of the job: Interacting with guests during elephant interactions.

Favourite elephant & why: Sebakwe.


Liverson Sande (Assistant Senior Handler)

Born: 1966

Origin: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: Since 2002

Level: 4

Background: I started working with elephants in Zimbabwe in 1996.

Family: I have a wife and six children (3 sons 3 daughters).

Favourite part of the job: I’ve always loved working with elephants, I love all the activities.

Favourite elephant & why: All of them.


HANDLERS:


Richard Gonamombe

Born: 1980

Origin: Mutoko, Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: Since 2008

Level: 2

Family: I have a wife and 2 children (1 son 1 daughter).

Favourite part of the job: Riding elephants and talking to guests on elephant back safari.

Favourite elephant & why: All of them.


Last Scholar

Born: 1985

Origin: Harare, Zimbabwe

Camp Jabulani: Since August 2010

Level: 2

Family: I have a wife.

Favourite part of the job: Working with elephants in nature. (He’s busy with a nature guides course)

Favourite elephant & why: All of them


Kaswed Friday

Born: 30 years

Origin: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: Since 2005

Family: I have a wife and 3 children (2 sons 1 daughter)

Favourite part of the job: All the daily activities that I can experience with the elephants in nature.

Favourite elephant & why: All of them.


Clemence Kadungure

Born: 1985

Origin: Norton, Zimbabwe

Camp Jabulani: Since September 2006

Family: I have a wife

Favourite part of the job: Psychology guardianship with the elephants.

Favourite elephant & why: All of them.


Keneth Shambira

Born: 1969

Origin: Greendale, Zimbabwe

Level: 3

Family: I have a wife and three daughters.

Favourite part of the job: Elephant back safaris

Favourite elephant & why: Somapane – I enjoy teaching her new commands, she is so clever.


Robert Tavarwisa

Born: 1972

Origin: South East Zimbabwe.

Family: I have a wife and three children (1 son 2 daughters).

Favourite part of the job: Talking to guests and directing with elephants.

Favourite elephant & why: All of them.


Tichaona Dube

Born: 1983

Origin: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

Level: 4

Family: I have a wife and two sons.

Favourite part of the job: Elephant back safaris.

Favourite elephant & why: Jabulani, because he has insight and understands humans.


Foster Timba

Born: 1971

Origin: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

Level: 2

Family: I have a wife and two daughters.

Favourite part of the job: Working in the safari industry, especially elephant back safaris.

Favourite elephant & why: All of them.


Newman Maguya

Born: 1984

Origin: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

Family: I have a wife and one daughter.

Favourite part of the job: Spending time with the juvenile elephants.

Favourite elephant & why: The juvenile elephants. They introduce new personalities and I love learning about them.


Beven Chirenje

Born: 1977

Origin: Harare, Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: Since 2006

Family: I have a wife and four children (1 son 3 daughters)

Favourite part of the job: All activities, I love every part of every day spent with elephants.

Favourite elephant & why: All of them.


Blessmore Gwerere

Born: 1971

Origin: Mvurwi, Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: Since 2002

Level: 2

Family: I have a wife and three daughters.

Favourite part of the job: Conducting interaction around elephant back safaris.

Favourite elephant & why: Mambo. He has a healthy character. Loves to irritate his sisters, he gets them every time.


Clifford Sakala

Born: 1976

Origin: Banket, Zimbabwe.

Camp Jabulani: Since 2006

Level: 3

Family: I have a wife and three daughters.

Background: I started working with elephants in Zimbabwe in 2003.

Favourite part of the job: Guest interaction is my favourite part of the day.

Favourite elephant & Why: ‘All of them.’


 

 

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