A 23 Year Journey realised in one heartwarming moment

February 4, 2020

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 neighbouring Jabulani herd, paid his first personal visit to Khanyisa, the start of many.

During his time foraging in the wild, Jabulani decided to personally visit the little unique baby elephant. His impressive size grew quickly as he approached from a distance until eventually, he cast a protective shadow over Khanyisa. Breathtaking moments that said more than any words ever could.

Khanyisa stood so still in his presence, as if in awe. They looked upon each other in what seemed like silence to our human ears, yet no doubt sharing so much more between these two kindred elephant spirits. How we wish we knew what they were saying to one another!

It was an unforgettable moment that was incredibly emotional and significant, as Khanyisa would not be where she was today if it were not for Jabulani's brave story, as he too had a second chance at life, which started in 1997.

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 they had no choice but to leave him for the sake of the rest of the herd. Fortunately, he was discovered in time, and Lente Roode (Adine's mother) and her team at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) nursed him, rehabilitated him and hand-reared him.

Jabulani as a young calf in the care of HESC. Seen with his sheep friend Skaap

When he was weaned, they tried to introduce Jabulani to wild elephant herds, but they had no success. And so it became a growing concern as Jabulani, a young elephant bull had no elephant family of his own though he seemed quite happy in the care of his HESC family.

Fate stepped in in 2002 when Lente Roode was approached to help rescue a herd of elephants from Zimbabwe who were under threat from the locals during civil unrest. Most of the herd were orphans themselves and were part of an elephant back safari programme. She agreed to transport the herd and their carers to Kapama reserve in South Africa.

A few months later, they decided to introduce Jabulani to the herd, and fortunately with the love and kindness that Tokwe, the Matriarch, has always shown, she accepted the five-year-old elephant into their herd, which already had a unique social structure.

Jabulani in 2018 at the age of 21, with his "Aunty" Lundi

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