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The Story of Jabulani

This is the story of an abandoned baby elephant who could never have known the impact he would have on the lives of  other elephants, and on thousands of people around the world.

In June 1997, just 4 months old, a tiny elephant arrived at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC). He had been found stuck in the mud of a silt dam, and was injured and severely dehydrated. He had been abandoned by his herd.

It took a full year to nurse the elephant back to health. He truly beat the odds, as not much hope was held that he would pull through. He was monitored around the clock by a dedicated team (including a hand-reared sheep called “Skaap” which acted as a surrogate mother) and was slowly brought back to a state of health. He was called Jabulani – meaning “to rejoice”.

Now came a challenge of an altogether different kind. Despite numerous attempts to re-introduce Jabulani to the bush, he would have none of it! These humans were his family, and he had no intention of parting ways. What to do with a quickly growing elephant?

Enter the hand of fate once again.

In March 2002 word reached the HESC of some Zimbabwean elephants which faced a grisly and untimely end. These elephants were all orphans due to a culling programme that took place in the 1980s, and were already trained for elephant back safari operations. Their owner’s farm was in the process of being expropriated by war veterans, and the elephants were tagged for their meat.? A rescue mission was put into place within a matter of weeks. Two massive trucks left Johannesburg for Zimbabwe empty – and returned with a couple pachyderms.

It was with amazement that the HESC team witnessed the meeting of Jabulani and the herd. He was immediately adopted by Tokwe (the matriarch) and had finally found his kin.

Left with the overwhelming custodianship of these beautiful but mammoth animals, the next logical step was in the creation of a camp to support them. This camp would enable travellers from around the world to experience the extraordinary impact of interacting with elephants.

And so Camp Jabulani was born.

Almost 10 years later, and the elephants are alive and well. Four babies have been born to the herd, and another orphan found in the wild was rehabilitated successfully.

There is nothing ordinary about the Camp Jabulani experience. And that is because of its elephants. Discover for yourself that intangible something that will leave you marked forever.

Story of Jabulani

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