12 Aug 2013 World Elephant Day 2013
“World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.” worldelephantday.org/
We at Camp Jabulani fully support the World Elephant Day Initiative. For us, the well-being of our animals is our top priority.
At the outset it must be said that 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 that have been reared by humans are seldom able to integrate back into the wild.
Anyone who knows of Mrs Lente Roode (the owner of Camp Jabulani, and the world renowned Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre/ HESC), knows of her genuine passion for animals, and the fact that she has devoted her life to the conservation and rehabilitation of animals, and in particular, endangered species.
12 of the elephants at Camp Jabulani were trained in Zimbabwe, and were rescued by the team at the HESC when war veterans took over the farm belonging to their caregiver. There is no doubt that the majestic giants would have been killed had this rescue mission not been undertaken.
Once the elephants had been relocated to South Africa, the HESC faced the mammoth task of caring for 13 elephants – including Jabulani, who had been orphaned at a very young age and hand-reared at the Centre. Since they were accustomed to being cared for by humans, there was no way that they could be released into the wild, and the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre had to pick up where their previous caregivers had left off. The best solution was to create a self-sustaining environment for the elephants – one that would provide the homeless elephants with a place to live, while enabling the HESC to meet the massive costs of their care. Camp Jabulani was born.
Camp Jabulani’s model of elephant care is based on encouragement and reward, rather than enforcing authority through physical means. Five baby elephants have been born at Camp Jabulani since its inception – a sure sign that these gentle giants are happy, since elephants will not breed if traumatised or stressed. Mrs Roode established an elephant advisory committee, consisting of veterinary surgeons and other experts in the field, in order to ensure that everything possible is done to give the elephants the best possible care. The Camp Jabulani model of elephant care has in fact been lauded by the local SPCA as exemplary, and has been cited as one that similar bodies should emulate.
When elephant-back safaris were introduced, the well-being of the elephants was foremost, and special saddles were designed with the comfort of the animals in mind. Safaris are only undertaken twice a day – for an hour at a time, and for the rest of the day the elephants are allowed to forage freely in the wild. The elephants overnight in custom-built stables – probably the best in the world – where they have plenty of food and water at their disposal. Judging by the nightly visits by some of the wild elephants in the area, Camp Jabulani’s elephant accommodation is highly coveted!
Elephants in this operation are not prevented from returning to the wild, should they wish to do so. Two of the Camp Jabulani bulls have in fact left the captive herd in order to join wild female herds on the reserve.