The Hard Work Behind the Scenes
As a rescued herd, the Jabulani elephants spend their sunrise to sunset hours each day out in their wilderness with their Carers, while at night these once orphans and now family members gather in their homestead area to spend the night time hours. Our Carers remain on duty to watch over the safety of the herd while in the staff accommodation alongside the homestead, so that they can easily look outside to check on the herd if there are any strange or loud sounds and commotion. The homestead is divided into four quadrants to keep the older bulls separated from one another during the evening. This is to avoid fights breaking out between the bulls over food or mere bull behaviour.
The fours older bulls, Sebakwe, Somopane, Fishan and Jabulani each stay in a different quadrant with the other elephants who are their homestead mates. As a result of this extra time together, these elephants grouped together tend to be closer. We set up the homestead structure based on which elephants gravitated to each other and which elephants needed each other. For instance Setombe chooses to always be beside Sebakwe, as he gives her confidence and a feeling of security. Setombe’s daughter Klaserie stays with the two elephants and is also close with Sebakwe as a result. Setombe, like all mothers to daughters, likes to stay close to Klaserie at all times. Bubi stays with her son Zindoga and older bull Somopane.
Watch Senior Carer Owen Dube Explaining How Elephants Sleep
Fishan used to sleep in Bubi’s quadrant but after this accident he needed to be around the youngsters and not where a bull like Zindoga might push him. Fishan still stays with Tokwe and the younger elephants but is still very close to Bubi and the two are often side by side out in the bush. Mambo stays with his mom Lundi and older bull Jabulani. Lundi is good at keeping them in line and the three get on well in their homestead area. Since elephants are such large animals, sleeping lying down on a flat surface makes it difficult for them to get up.
We create these sand mounds using a tractor to mould the sand every now and again so that the elephants all have a comfortable place to sleep should they choose to lie down, which they often do. In the wild elephants may only lie down to sleep more rarely, every few days, as it also makes them more vulnerable to predators. They will therefore often sleep standing up, however the important deep sleep comes when they are fully horizontal, which is necessary for healthy brain functioning.
Our hardworking team behind the scenes keep the homestead clean and replenish the elephants’ food sources daily with fresh bana grass, branches, lucerne and fruit or vegetables as well as fresh water to supplement their diet from foraging out in the wild.
READ MORE: Let Sleeping Elephants Life