Limpopo is an allomother, a Matriarch’s daughter, a friend and sister…
Constantly fascinated in the world around her, amazed and enthused by everything, with her detective’s trunk, determined walk, see-all eyes, and cheeky confident character. Today we celebrate her 15 years of life, her adventures across the wilderness each day with her family, young and old, and her unique personality that makes her stand out. This is Limpopo’s story.
On the 19th August 2006, Limpopo was born to the Jabulani Herd. Her birth was an extremely significant event for both the elephants and our team, as she was the first elephant calf born to the rescued herd after being saved from culling in Zimbabwe and brought to South Africa. Limpopo was a sign that the herd were happy and healthy.
It seems fitting that Tokwe, the Matriarch of the herd, would be the first mother of the herd too, as she would be the perfect elephant to set an example of motherhood to others, and we had complete confidence in her abilities to come. Limpopo’s father however, remains a bit of a mystery. He may well have been one of the Jabulani herd bulls, however, the birth happened to coincide with a little adventure that Tokwe took, exactly two years prior to the day, where she had set off on her own into the bush, and returned a day later. So, there is a high probability that she may have been impregnated by one of the wild bulls on the reserve.
We knew we needed a poignant name for this special little elephant… so we decided on Limpopo, which is the name of a large river that separates South Africa from Zimbabwe. This was the perfect name, seeing as the herd were rescued from Zimbabwe, and brought to South Africa, so she has ties to both countries. When Limpopo arrived, the Jabulani herd had yet to experience true family dynamics. We believe she helped the rescued herd develop and connect with their maternal instinct, not only Tokwe but all the females in the herd. Limpopo loves to be loved, and is a gentle, proud and affectionate animal.
Three years after Limpopo was born, Tokwe gave birth again, to Pisa, and thereafter another three elephants were born to other females in the herd, and three more orphaned elephants were successfully integrated into the herd after Jabulani: Kumbura, Timisa, and Khanyisa. This has made Limpopo take on the role of the “Big Sister” of the herd, and she performs that role beautifully, always protective and helping her mother tend to the younger elephants.
She has been known to confront dangerous animals that have crossed their paths in the reserve, in order to protect them. She can be overly curious and rough sometimes with the younger elephants, like Khanyisa, perhaps not realising her strength, or simply due to her bold nature.
Her best friend is Klaserie, who was born just six months after her, so she spends most of her time with her, if she is not by the side of her mother. Limpopo is very close with Tokwe and it seems as though she is constantly watching to learn from her, which is important, as often a Matriarch’s eldest daughter will replace her role, if and when she were to pass away.
Tokwe has passed on a lot of her good genes to her daughter, Limpopo, who too has a slightly less wrinkled skin compared to other elephants, a slightly pointed forehead, and tusks that are also slender, neat and even. She is also an active elephant, just like her mom, resulting in a more athletic body shape. She has a medium-sized body and very few hairs on the tip of her tail, and long and very thick eyelashes.
Limpopo is an exceptional Matriarch in the making, judging by how far she has come in the past 15 years. She is an incredibly intelligent and beautiful young female, and very empathetic to every elephant in the herd.
Of course, many have called Limpopo a diva (she certainly is an extrovert), as she became very accustomed to a lot of attention as the only baby in the herd, and gets jealous quite easily, but she has brought so much joy to the herd and to people following her journey, whether out foraging in the reserve or splashing about in mud and water at the dams. She is easily caring to and protective of newest orphan, Khanyisa, and a close sister to Pisa and the other members of her blended herd.
It is just incredible to watch Limpopo and her family roaming in their wildlife reserve, safe and protected, and continuing to grow and change in terms of skills and social dynamics, as new orphans are integrated and accepted into the herd. We look forward to celebrating this special elephant who teaches us so much about elephant life and love for many years to come.