The Jabulani Herd
The herd behind HERD…
The Jabulani herd is something special, a unique and close-knit family that originates with a little elephant orphan called Jabulani, who arrived at HESC (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre) in 1997, and 12 elephants rescued from an elephant-back safari operation in Zimbabwe, where they were to be culled during the country’s land reformation process, in 2002.
The older elephants adopted Jabulani as one of their own, creating a new, growing family in their home in the Jabulani stables in Kapama. Together, the elephants spend their days happily roaming and foraging in the wilderness with their loyal human carers for protection from wild elephants. Many of the carers came across from Zimbabwe with the elephants, having worked with them at the safari operation.
The herd has matured over the years and have shown themselves to be the best possible family for the new orphans from HERD. Two orphans have been successfully introduced and welcomed into the Jabulani herd thus far. Showing the herd’s wellbeing and positive adaptation to their home at Jabulani, they have given birth to five calves since 2006.
Every member of the Jabulani herd, both female and male, young and old, is an integral part of their unique family. Each elephant has their own distinctive character and bond with the rest of the group.
Discover more about the elephants that the HERD orphans will, hopefully, one day call family.
He needs a lot of care and respect, but gives a lot of love in return – to humans and especially the young calves, with whom he loves to spend time. He is very protective, but also quite carefree, and shares his stable with the little ones and Tokwe, helping the matriarch to look after the youngsters.
In 2018 , Fishan broke his leg by standing into a hole. The team at Jabulani did an incredible job, and this four-tonne elephant is back on his feet and roaming wildly with the rest of the herd again. Read about his success story HERE.
While she had her own little one, Zindoga, in September 2007 while at Jabulani, she loves nursing the other calves alongside her own and is affectionate with all the female elephants in the herd. She also loves a good dip in the dam.
Zindoga has proven to be quite the fighter, no quiet mouse at all. He's competitive and loves to wrestle with the other elephants. Even in his display of strength, he is never violent, and is sure to win over the respect of new orphans as he has with the rest of the herd for his consistent dominance of the other younger elephants and some of the adult females. Zindoga is bound to grow into a strong bull one day.
Read more about Zindoga HERE
Pisa has great self-confidence and has made herself known as a leader on foraging trips. New orphans introduced to the group might struggle with her at first, as she tends to be quite jealous of other younger elephants in the herd, but her mother Tokwe has proven to do a good job at teaching her daughter to be more accepting.
Pisa recently celebrated her 10th Birthday!
She is naturally caring and likes to be with a companion wherever she goes. She is particularly fond of Timisa, another orphan that joined the Jabulani herd after her. Kumbura is always looking out for her and making sure that Timisa stays away from the deeper waters of the dam when swimming, by nudging her towards the shallower areas. Her empathy and natural instinct to protect the younger herd is a great asset for when we welcome new orphans to the group.
The introduction was a heart-warming sight, as the herd trumpeted and surrounded her in a protective circle instantly. Fishan was the first to accept her, followed by Tokwe and soon the whole herd rallied around the little orphan in their welcoming embrace. Timisa has found good friends in Pisa and Kumbura. The ever-loving matriarch, Tokwe has become something of an adoptive mother to her, helping her to settle in well with the herd. Timisa has a strong will (and appetite) and loves her treats.
Read her full story HERE
With his fighter spirit and energetic personality, and with faithful Lammie by his side, little Mopane went from strength to strength while at the centre. With his successful recovery, he was the first elephant to be introduced to our orphanage at HERD.
With his carers and Adine for company and care, he developed a new lease on life at the Orphanage, playing excitedly like a child with his ball and running for longer stretches in his more spacious home. He was a ray of hope. We dedicated our constant time, energy and attention to his reintroduction, preparing him to meet and move in with the Jabulani herd in the stables next door. We placed his dung around the bigger herd to familiarise them with his scent. His carers watched on with great anticipation for the next steps.
And then, in December 2019, the young, healthy calf contracted a virus called Encephalomyocarditis, which may have been passed via traces of rodents’ urine on the dry feed. As we had been experiencing a drought, we had to source extra food from suppliers, where we suspect the contamination may have originated. Mopane had no ulcers, and his adrenal gland was small, indicating that he was not stressed. As there is no cure for the virus as of yet, and it is incredibly acute, we lost Mopane quickly. He continues to be a driving force for us at HERD, pushing us to fight to save orphaned elephants, no matter how harsh the challenges.
Read Adine's Statement HERE
Watch our Tribute Video HERE
Over time, they nursed him back to health until he was strong enough and ready to be reintegrated with the herd. Because elephants have such a strong sense of family and calves are cared for by the entire herd, it was decided that Shawu would be introduced to his new family– the Jabulani herd. In April 2018, the team took the least stressful option of walking Shawu to his new family on foot, rather than using vehicle transportation.
The introduction was successful, although at first Shawu did not want to leave the side of his human carers. Eventually, the herd welcomed him to the family, rumbling and trumpeting as elephants do when a new baby is born. Shawu adapted exceptionally well to his surroundings in the stables, eating, drinking and sleeping like a healthy growing boy.
However, in June 2018, just two months later, his condition changed suddenly. He passed away in a matter of hours, from what was revealed later as heart complication. We are proud to have been able to show him true love, acceptance and family (from the herd and humans) for the time we had with him.
Read more about Shawu's HERE