Tokwe is named after a river in Zimbabwe and was born in around 1988. She is an extraordinary elephant and led the way for the original herd that were rescued from Zimbabwe, in 2002. Her presence was a big factor in the herd settling down so quickly in their new safe and protected environment. The herd followed her lead, and trusted her decisions, and they still do so today.
Tokwe embraces all the qualities of an exceptional Matriarch. She is protective, caring, nurturing, kind, accepting, but still disciplined and well ordered. She leads by example, and is a strong decision maker.
Her maternal instincts and nurturing qualities have been extraordinary over the years, as she lovingly accepted and welcomed orphans Jabulani, Kumbura, Timisa and Khanyisa, into the herd, providing a motherly role for the first three calves and an allomother role for Khanyisa, now that Tokwe’s trunk is rather busy seeing to the youngsters.
Tokwe was the first elephant to give birth, which was to Limpopo, in 2006. Her second baby, Pisa, was born in 2009. Lundi is her closest friend, almost like a sister, which stems from their time of comforting each other during the strenuous times in Zimbabwe.
Being a Matriarch is a tremendously important role for an elephant. In the basic family unit in a herd of elephants, with anywhere between 6 and 20 animals, you will naturally find a Matriarch with her calves and grand calves. While the females often remain with the herd for life, the young bulls stay until around 12 to 15 years of age, when they reach puberty. They will then start to become more independent until they leave their herd completely, to either roam alone or find a loosely-knit group of male elephants to join. As a unique and blended herd of rescued elephants, the Jabulani herd with Tokwe as Matriarch currently includes female and older male elephants, harmoniously.
Young elephants remain with their family for years, learning from their elders while enjoying both physical and emotional support. Tokwe is a true mother in every sense: a provider, nurturer, leader, mentor, teacher, disciplinarian, protector… She also assists with ‘babysitting’ (or allo-mothering) some of the young elephants, helping to keep them safe from both predators and their own foolhardy behaviour, helping them over obstacles and teaching them what to and what not to eat.
Her job is never done and she takes it on effortlessly, naturally, and with great gentle giant elegance, with her grand distinctive tusks fearlessly leading the way for all around her.
You can assist in our work to care for, protect and support Tokwe by fostering her HERE.