The Herd Blog

  • The Making of a Sustainable HERD | Through Conservation

    Our objectives at HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development) speak to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. These goals, like […]

  • Conservation Fun and Sustainable Development with Mpisi Primary School

    “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” ~ Coretta Scott King HERD is very proud to be part of a wonderful ongoing partnership with Mpisi Primary School, which is located just a short distance from us in Hoedspruit. The school has roughly 800 learners from Grade R […]

  • How to Make an Elephant Bed — The HERD Homestead

    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 […]

  • A Home For Elephants & Humans Alike | Protecting Our Habitats

    Today two important days unite – World Habitat Day and World Animal Day and it gives us a chance to spread awareness of not only the elephant species that we are dedicated to at HERD but also the habitats that support them and the settlements around them. Habitats are a vital focus in conservation and […]

  • Khanyisa’s Great & Growing Feet #KhanyisaGoingOnTwo

    From adorable stumbles to slow and steady steps, Khanyisa’s feet have undergone a fair bit of change in the past year – much like the rest of her growing little albino body. The calf is turning two on 26 September 2021 – an estimated date given by our wildlife vets. She has learnt so much […]

  • A Baby Elephant’s Journey of Healing from Snare Victim to Survivor

    She was unlike anything we had seen before, a tiny albino elephant with light blue eyes like the ocean and puffy pink cheeks. She stood not even at hip-height to us. She was so young, only four months old, and had already been through such a tremendous tragedy: she had lost her mother, her herd, […]

  • Nungu the Nurturer | A Companion Sheep To Elephant Orphans

    When it comes to raising orphaned elephant calves, friendship and the loving touch of a kind and caring soul is vital for the orphan. The companion sheep of HERD know this to be true and work around the clock to ensure that the young elephants at the orphanage feel safe and warm and cherished. This […]

  • How’s Kumbura Doing? | An Update on a Special Elephant Orphan

    Listen to Tigere share an update on the very special elephant orphan in our care, Kumbura ~ An Elephant Reminder of Love and Perseverance. Kumbura has successfully integrated into the herd and has been a marvel over the years in terms of adapting to her new family and becoming a loving allomother and guardian for […]

  • How We Keep the Elephant Herd Well Nourished All Year Round

    What it Takes to Keep the Herd Nourished Elephants are the largest terrestrial animals on the planet. Considering their size, it is understandable that they have to consume large quantities of food. On average, an adult African elephant requires about 100-270 kilograms of food and 160 litres of water per day. To ensure that they […]

  • A Matriarch’s Daughter | Young Elephant Limpopo Turns 15

    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 […]

  • Trunkfuls of Art – A HERD Elephant Art Competition

    This year in celebration of World Elephant Day 2021, we launched our Trunkfuls of Art competition, where we asked creatives from all over the world to create a piece of art inspired by HERD, using any method or material that they like. Entrants were required to donate a small entry fee, to submit their art […]

  • Orphan Albino Elephant Khanyisa Gets Tusks!

    As rare albino elephant orphan, Khanyisa approaches around two years of age in September this year, we have been looking forward to a new milestone presenting itself, and little by little it has: Khanyisa has tusks! Having seen Khanyisa come into HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development), as a suffering four-month-old snare victim, with severe […]

  • Exciting Elephant Art Projects at our partner Mpisi Primary School

    We become successful by what we get, but we become happy by what we give… We are celebrating the start of a beautiful new journey with our surrounding communities and growing our human HERD. Junior Nursery Carer, Khensani has been leading the way as we build our partnership with Mpisi Primary School close to us in Hoedspruit […]

  • Jabulani’s Journey & Bond with Khanyisa

    Elephant orphan, Jabulani shares a similar story to Khanyisa. At just five months old he was found abandoned in a manmade mud pit. It was clear he had fallen into the hole and was unable to get himself out. He had injuries that proved that his herd must have desperately tried to save him until […]

  • Youngest Elephant Allomother in the Herd, Kumbura

    The youngest allomother in the herd… But one so beautifully and naturally equipped for the role… is Kumbura, one of the orphan elephants integrated successfully into the herd. Kumbura has taken to Khanyisa just as she did with little Timisa, following the calf everywhere with such tender love and dedicated care and concern. This video […]

  • Beautiful Bubi, Adoring Elephant Allomother & Mother

    In the local language of Sesotho, it is, “Mafutsana a llelana” and it means that people who are poor, troubled or disadvantaged in some way help each other because they know the pain. This couldn’t be more true for Bubi, who is an orphan herself. She makes sure that the orphans around her are comforted […]

  • Limpopo’s Gentle Giant Show of Motherly Elephant Love

    Named after a river in Zimbabwe and a province in South Africa, Limpopo is a typical little Tokwe – her mother and the Matriarch in the herd. She is caring, curious, intuitive, dedicated, protective, and adoring… Sometimes overly so. Born 19 August 2006, Limpopo was the first elephant calf born to the Jabulani herd and […]

  • Curious, Playful Allomother, Klaserie | #MothersDay2021

    Klaserie is named after a river in South Africa, that flows past our reserve, the Kapama Private Game Reserve. She was born on 23 February 2007 to Setombe – it is not known who the father is, whether it is a bull in the Jabulani herd or in a wild herd. Klaserie was the second […]

  • The Anatomy of an Elephant ~ The Jacobson Organ

    A Silent Language When it comes to the life of an elephant, little is more important than the senses they rely on. Taste, sight, hearing, smell, and touch are all essential to the daily lives of mammals like elephants, with each sense complementing and compensating for the other. From tracking down fresh new grass and […]

  • What it means when we call elephants “ecosystem engineers”

    Elephants are considered as ecosystem engineers, sculpting the landscape they move through and creating microhabitats for smaller mammals and invertebrates as well as facilitating much needed plant diversity. As the Jabulani elephant herd and wild elephant herds in the reserve continue to grow in size, with new calves, and considering that elephants live to more […]

  • It takes guts to raise a baby elephant… | Elephant Digestion

    It takes nerves of steel and sometimes, when the little pachyderm is tugging on your tail or the rains just won’t come, it takes patience and a cool head. It also requires the transfer of symbiotic microbial bacteria from the gut of the mother to the gut of the elephant calf. From their cute little […]

  • Milk Makes The Elephant Go Round | Feeding Orphan Elephant Calves

    The longer they take to stand upright and keep those shaky little waif limbs firm on their new planet, the scarier it gets for mother and child. Baby needs its milk and will stay beside Mom for years, drinking milk from her teat for somewhere between four to five years old. Sometimes even longer, sometimes […]

  • Elephants & Their Families: The Importance of Social Structures Within a Herd

    For an elephant, there is nothing quite as important as the love provided and bonds created by their families. These phenomenal mammals depend extensively on one another, not only for protection and survival but also for the emotional connections that are crucial for any elephant to thrive.   The importance of family While most of […]

  • Stop Snaring ~ A Multi-Language Message from Our Elephant Carers

    We invite classrooms across the country or continent to share these videos with your students and spread the message! #STOPSNARING Our multi-language videos about snaring aim to reach more and more people across South Africa and beyond, and will form part of our community collaborations in schools, starting with English, Sotho, Shangaan and Shona. Watch […]

  • Learning from the Giants | A Study into the Personality of Elephants

    “There is a powerful force unleashed when young people resolve to make a change.” ― Jane Goodall Once in a while, we have the time and opportunity to give a nature conservation or environmental science student the chance to carry out valuable practical research work in our reserve, as part of their academic studies. It […]

  • Taking Care of the Land that Cares for Us ~ A HERD Project

    Just as the elephants need to be sustained, supported and protected, so too does the land that they roam across, that sustains and supports them. The beauty but also difficulty of conservation is how interlinked every part of the whole is. Much like caring for a baby elephant orphan, there are many factors to give […]

  • Carers, Owen & Godknows Go Elephant Tracking with Elephants Alive

    “But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.” ― Lawrence Anthony It was time to […]

  • The Anatomy of an Elephant ~ The Elephant’s Hair

    Elephants are anything but hirsute, but their sparse, strategically-placed hair is as important to them as is the head-to-toe covering preferred by many other mammals. Keratin is the fibrous structural protein that is the main component of hair, fur, wool and even pangolin scales and this hairiness is one of the defining characteristics of all […]

  • Farewell Fenya ~ You Are Always in our Hearts

    It is with deep sadness that we share the passing of Fenya, an orphaned elephant calf that was found and rescued on 17 February 2021. The young calf fought so hard and so did our team, who worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to try to save her precious life. Fenya was brought into […]

  • A New Orphan Elephant Calf at HERD: Fenya the Survivor

    This young female elephant calf was found on a private game reserve in Phalaborwa, in Limpopo province by local resident, Willem Botha and his son, Liam. She had a wire snare wrapped tightly around her head which had caused severe wounds, however, she had managed to dislodge the snare from where it had been secured. […]

  • The Joys of African Elephants & Cool Wet Mud

    The rains have been blessing our reserve abundantly lately and many parts of South Africa and it’s not gone unnoticed by the elephants! On this walk in the bush, the herd take great advantage of the mud beneath their feet. Klaserie, Setombe, Mambo and Sebakwe in particular enjoy the glorious cooling mud on this rainy […]

  • The Intricacies of Caring for a Baby Elephant! – An Update on Khanyisa’s Weight

    Sunshine Khanyisa Braveheart A Blog by Adine Roode, Founder of HERD… You might have noticed Khanyisa getting very tall lately! It’s always more visible when you see her beside a human rather than another much larger elephant. Sunshine not only grew some long and lean legs before our eyes but she is filling out nicely […]

  • Khanyisa’s Big Year | The Albino Elephant Calf’s One Year Anniversary at HERD

    Today we are celebrating the anniversary of Khanyisa arriving at HERD – how time has flown! One year ago, Khanyisa arrived in our care at HERD, on that momentous day: 8 January 2020. We have shared her journey through rehabilitation and integration into a new herd with you every step of the way, showing the […]

  • The Anatomy of an Elephant – The Elephant’s Tail

    Jabulani herd elephant bull, Mambo’s strong, 11-year-old tail Oh, The Tales This Tail Can Tell As humans, we have built all kinds of clever tools to make our daily lives easier, in the name of progress. But something must be said for the ingenuity of having and using the built-in utensils that you were born […]

  • Remembering Mopane – Gone but never forgotten

    Last year December, a few weeks before Khanyisa was found and rescued, we experienced the terrible loss of a special young elephant that was loved by so many, far and wide. Mopane – we miss him every day. We cannot help but think of the close bond Mopane and Khanyisa may have had now. No doubt he […]

  • The Interesting Interactions Between the Jabulani Herd & Wild Elephants

    Jabulani herd Matriarch, Tokwe and the herd We share our reserve, the Kapama Private Game Reserve in South Africa, with many animals. Buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, hippo, impala, beautiful birdlife, elusive caracal and pangolin, and of course elephant… Both wild herds and the Jabulani herd of rescued elephants who have created a herd of their […]

  • Lammie the Loving Legend Gets a Haircut

    Lammie is the sweet surrogate superstar at the orphanage, who has given Khanyisa attentive company, warmth and joy since the little albino orphan first arrived at HERD in January this year. Lammie the Legend, we call her, for her love and patience and loyalty know no bounds. Born in 2014, she has been a friend […]

  • Elephant Relations – The Connection Between Elephants, Sea Cows & Dassies

    The Jabulani herd and Khanyisa drinking at the dam “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Elephants have been […]

  • The Anatomy of an Elephant ~ The Elephant’s Tusks

    Tokwe the Matriarch “If elephants didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense.” – Lyall Watson, South African botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, ethologist. Tusks are teeth, elongated and projecting incisors with the same physical characteristics as most mammalian teeth. There is […]

  • The Anatomy of an Elephant ~ The Elephant Ear

    Khanyisa and her distinctive albino ear – the effects of the snare she was caught in leaving a section of the top of her left ear missing. Playing it By Ear An elephant’s ears, with all of the nicks, notches, holes and missing bits is one of a kind and can serve a similar purpose […]

  • Khanyisa Turns One! Happy Birthday, Braveheart!

    Sunshine’s Grand Adventure Khanyisa’s nine-month journey of rehabilitation and integration into the Jabulani Herd at HERD, South Africa’s first dedicated elephant orphanage, has been one we will remember for a lifetime. Not only because of the immense support from fosters and donors and followers on social media, who have followed her little journey throughout a […]

  • Let Sleeping Elephants Lie – How Elephants Sleep!

    Sleeping Beauty… Young orphan African baby elephants raised and cared for in orphanages seem to prefer sleeping, similar to us humans, in a safe, warm and comfy spot. They enjoy a soft bed of straw or grass to lie on and a multi-coloured blanket to keep them warm when the night-time and their own body […]

  • The Anatomy of an Elephant – Elephant Trunks!

    Sleeping Sunshine and her sweet pink trunk! Khanyisa was born, like all elephants with an unruly and headstrong trunk, a proboscis or snout that takes its new owner some getting used to. Even its name is somewhat of a mystery as we swim in trunks, use them for storage, make trunk calls and drive on […]

  • The Anatomy of an Elephant – Elephant Skin!

    Jabulani’s Skinny Folds African elephants have been wondering around in their wrinkled and ill-fitting full-body suits for about 5 million years, but it wasn’t until 2018 that an in-depth study of their skin revealed the mystery behind their less-than-sleek appearance. An African elephant’s skin is its largest organ and can weigh up to 900 kilograms, […]

  • What it Takes to Care for Baby Elephants: #6 Funding

    We are so grateful to the kind hearts that donate toward the vital work of HERD, South Africa’s first dedicated elephant orphanage, helping us to save, rehabilitate and rewild orphaned elephants. From day one, many of you reading this have stepped in to assist – to be useful, honourable and compassionate and to make a difference. You […]

  • A True Survivor, Kumbura ~ An Orphan Successfully Integrated into the Jabulani Herd

    Meet kind Kumbura, another orphan that has been lovingly accepted into the Jabulani herd – 11 years ago! Kumbura’s incredible story of how she came to be at Jabulani reveals so much about this special elephant, about conservation and about the need for a herd. It is a tale of going above and beyond, not […]

  • Khanyisa’s Momentous 6 Month Journey at HERD

    Orphaned Albino Elephant Calf Khanyisa’s successful six-month journey of rehabilitation at HERD. It has been an incredible six months of rehabilitation and phased integration into the Jabulani herd for little albino elephant calf, Khanyisa at HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development), South Africa’s first dedicated elephant orphanage.  Watch the Journey So Far Here Khanyisa was […]

  • What it Takes to Care for Baby Elephants: #5 Teamwork

    We’ve introduced you to the elephant carers at HERD who have the very important role of looking after the orphans and their rehabilitation and integration into the Jabulani herd. A full and demanding job! But there is a greater team at work and that is essential to the goal of raising baby elephants orphans. The […]

  • The Beauties of Bana Grass – aka “Elephant Grass”

    You may have seen us carting bana grass around, to and from the nursery and stables, or watched the Jabulani herd and Khanyisa contentedly chewing and eating the long fresh grass, but we wanted to let you know more about it! Its source and purpose… The Jabulani bana grass plantation is a sustainable, fortunate and convenient […]

  • What it Takes to Care for Baby Elephants: #4 Milk

    One of the greatest challenges and essentials in caring for baby elephant orphans is making and providing the correct milk formula to ensure that fast-growing calves receive the correct nutrition. To keep the orphans healing well, growing strong and roaming energetically, we need to provide them with the energy to do so. When they first arrive at HERD, […]

  • Bubi injures Timisa

    Timisa, the youngest of the Jabulani herd, and an orphaned elephant accepted into the herd, experienced Bubi’s protective and often possessive behaviour over Khanyisa, firsthand. Recently, while in the wild of the reserve, Bubi got upset with Timisa while she was playing (too much for Bubi’s liking) with Khanyisa, and unfortunately hurt Timisa with her […]

  • The Fatherly Figures in Khanyisa’s Elephant Family

    Happy Father’s Day! What better opportunity than to highlight the male elephants that currently play a role in Khanyisa’s new life with her new herd, the Jabulani Herd. The older Jabulani Bulls are Jabulani, Fishan, Sebakwe and Somopane Each morning Khanyisa joins the Jabulani herd as they depart at sunrise to forage out on the […]

  • What it Takes to Care for Baby Elephants: #3 Carers

    The Heart and Soul of HERD One of the great essentials in caring for baby elephant orphans at HERD is our Carers! It takes a special person to look after elephant orphans around-the-clock and we are grateful to have a strong team of such people, at HERD and Jabulani. Our loving and passionate carers are […]

  • What it Takes to Care for Baby Elephants: #2 Family

    Family means never leaving anyone behind… Everything about elephant herd dynamics revolves around the cohesion and strength and survival of the herd. Every elephant needs a herd and while caring for them, this is not only constantly front of mind for us, it’s our very purpose at HERD. Whether it’s the family we’re born into, […]


    It is hard to believe that nearly ten months have already passed since HERD was built. In a way, it has felt like we have always been here! Over this time we have been incredibly blessed with many kind and helpful individuals, companies and friends in conservation. All of which have helped us get to […]

  • What it Takes to Care for Baby Elephants: #1 Stimulation

    Both man and elephant need stimulation to grow and to thrive, and little Khanyisa as a growing calf, certainly needs it in trunk-loads.

  • Tiny Tusker Timisa ~ An Orphan Successfully Integrated into the Jabulani Herd

    Timisa is a true little heroine in the Jabulani herd She is a success story for elephant conservation. Having been orphaned at a young age, she was successfully taken in by her new family, the Jabulani herd, with whom she lives, plays, forages and swims today at Jabulani… After Timisa’s mother died as a result […]

  • Meet the Human HERD – This is Junior Elephant Carer, Khensani

    Our family at HERD includes not only elephants (and sheep… Hi Lammie!), but also very important humans. Meet our Junior Nursery Carer, Khensani here.

  • Khanyisa receives blood from Zindoga, a young male bull of the Jabulani Herd.

    When orphan albino Khanyisa’s condition turned two days ago, we sent a blood sample for testing at the same time as her dung sample. Fortunately, blood sample testing has a quicker turnaround time than the dung sampling, which we are still waiting for results from. The blood test results showed lower albumin levels in her […]

  • Khanyisa’s Big Feet

    Learn all about the wonderful and curious world of elephant feet, including little Khanyisa’s growing four feet too.

  • Adult Albino Elephants – What to Expect for Khanyisa as She Grows Up

    It is no hallucination, pink elephants exist, but mostly when they are young calves. As the first albino orphan that we have ever cared for, little Khanyisa is teaching us many things about her special kind. Albino elephants are extremely rare and are known to suffer many complications in the wild as a result of […]

  • Meet the Human Herd ~ Elephant Advisor, Dr Yolanda Pretorius

    They say it takes a village to raise a child and this is a sentiment that’s just as applicable to raising a baby elephant. We have a team of several experienced and knowledgeable elephant advisors who we turn to often, to ensure we give Khanyisa and future orphans the best care possible. Just as every […]

  • Jabulani – His story and why we introduced Khanyisa to him first.

    Twenty-three years ago, in 1997, Jabulani’s start to life mirrored that of little Khanyisa’s, the albino elephant calf in our care at HERD. Perhaps that is why he has taken such a vested interest in her wellbeing over the past two months. Jabulani was rescued from a deep pool of mud, having undergone a lot […]

  • Elephant Dung – a daily snack for Khanyisa!

    Khanyisa eating elephant dung, the act of Coprophagia

  • “It’s real, it’s inspiring and it’s an eye-opener.” ~ An Interview with Hermien Roelvert

    Meet our crazy elephant camerawoman, as she calls herself! A true warrior in capturing the stories of our Jabulani herd and HERD orphans, Hermien Roelvert.

  • For the love of water and an elephant named Khanyisa

      Water-loving Khanyisa From the beginning, when Khanyisa first arrived at HERD, in January this year, our priority has been to be a mother to her – to be the herd she so desperately has needed. No elephant has the means to rip open a human-made steel snare, but we can certainly believe that if […]

  • Khanyisa – Then and Now – 10 Weeks since being rescued.

    It has been just over ten weeks since Khanyisa’s unfathomable nightmare came to an end when she was rescued from a horrendous snare, and her journey to recovery at HERD began, surrounded by lots of care and love. Her wounds have proven to be the greatest challenge of her rehabilitation thus far. The snare that […]

  • Growing Up Elephant ~ Khanyisa’s Milestones

    Watching little Khanyisa growing up before our eyes is a true pleasure, with several milestones along the way for us to celebrate. Discover them here.

  • Lammie the Legend ~ And Her Rhino & Elephant Friends

    Meet Lammie the Legend ~ a pure-bred Pedi-sheep and companion to several orphaned baby rhinos and elephants.

  • Seven weeks of caring for albino baby elephant Khanyisa

    Looking back at the past seven weeks of caring for little Braveheart Khanyisa. It has been seven weeks since little Khanyisa was found all alone, dehydrated and severely injured from being caught in a cruel snare. The snare wrapped itself around the little elephant so tightly, cutting and wedging itself into the back of her […]

  • Meet Herman – One of Khanyisa’s dedicated elephant carers

      A special carer of special elephants Solani Herman Khoza, or Herman, as he’s known to us, has been one of baby albino elephant, Khanyisa’s guiding lights at Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD), in South Africa. Perhaps you’ve spotted him in our Instagram posts? Khanyisa is an albino elephant calf that was found tangled […]

  • A 23 Year Journey realised in one heartwarming moment

    A 23 Year Journey realised in one heartwarming moment as Jabulani introduced himself to Khanyisa. Jabulani visits Khanyisa On the early morning of the 17 January 2020, just ten days after Khanyisa, the injured albino elephant calf was brought into our care at Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD), Jabulani, an elephant bull of the […]

  • Albino Elephant Calf brought into our care at HERD.

    Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development have received a four-month-old severely injured baby elephant into our care on Tuesday 7th January 2020. She is an albino.And she is a miracle. On Monday morning, 6th January 2020, we received the call from wildlife vet, Dr. Albertus Coetzee advising us that a baby elephant had been found trapped in a snare with […]