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 of a drought in the region, she was rescued by the team at Elephants Alive (a Non-Profit Research and Conservation-based organisation that creates awareness of elephants and their survival). She was brought into the care of the Jabulani herd in November 2016, as an undernourished 10-month-old, and given the name Timisa, meaning Courageous, by Michelle Henley, who heads up Elephants Alive.

Timisa was accepted gracefully into the Jabulani Herd.

Tokwe, the Jabulani herd matriarch, took the orphaned calf under her trunk and became her adoptive mother. With Tokwe’s guidance, Timisa has settled in naturally and beautifully with the herd.

Fishan was the first to show his acceptance of Timisa, followed by Tokwe, who had to leave Pisa, her last-born daughter, to tend to Timisa. After that, the whole herd participated. Timisa has bonded very well with Pisa and Kumbura.

Timisa out foraging with her adoptive family.

We estimate that Timisa was born in mid-2015, making her only five years old now and recognisable as the shortest and smallest of the Jabulani elephants (unless Khanyisa is among them).

Timisa was very weak when she first arrived at Jabulani, but in time, her health improved dramatically, and she gained weight. Her tiny tusks continue to grow slowly.

The little orphan was quite a fussy eater when she first joined the herd, but her appetite has definitely improved. She is always on the lookout for the next nibble, when out and about foraging in the bush with her herd.

As with Khanyisa, we wish the circumstances had been different and that Timisa could have remained and lived her life with her original herd. While Khanyisa fell victim to a man-made snare that trapped her, Timisa’s fate was cast by nature and its often harsh turns. But we are comforted by the fact that the Jabulani herd has been able to give her the second best option, a second chance at life, as she now lives happily beneath and beside the towering bodies of her new mothers, allomothers, male elders, sisters and brothers.

Can you spot little Timisa’s face peeking out next to Khanyisa’s?

Watching Timisa blossom with Khanyisa as the two bond more and more has been really inspiring for our team and we only hope that this graceful sense of belonging and acceptance continues. Khanyisa could definitely do with an elephant playmate closer to her own size, compared to the larger, older ellies. It’s simply the cutest when Timisa lifts her front leg for Khanyisa to let her “suckle”, copying the older females.


Timisa’s journey and integration in the Jabulani herd have taught us a lot in preparation for Khanyisa’s own introductions with the elephants and how to go about it best. Although each elephant is different (just as each elephant matters), we have been able to detect and expect how certain elephants in the herd react to orphans.

In the beginning, when Timisa first arrived, Pisa (the second daughter born to Tokwe) was not very keen on her. But now the two are inseparable. Pisa is the same with Khanyisa now, not overly interested or friendly, but we are sure this too will change and develop.

Lady Courageous.

The dynamics in the herd are fluid. Watching it all unfold is the greatest lesson in elephant life and the greatest pleasure in ours.