A Journey of Resilience and Compassion | Celebrating Elephant Bull Jabulani’s 27th Birthday

by jabulani safari blog

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This month, we celebrate the 27th birthday of a beloved member of our family and the namesake of our lodge – elephant bull Jabulani. As we reflect on his remarkable journey, we are reminded of the profound impact he has had on both humans and elephants alike. Join us as we delve into the extraordinary life of Jabulani.

The Early Years: A Tale of Resilience

Jabulani’s story is one of resilience, beginning in 1997 when he was rescued from the clutches of a silt dam. His name, which means “rejoice” in Zulu, seemed a fitting tribute to this extraordinary event. His early years were marked by challenges, finding solace among humans when the wild elephant herd of Kapama repeatedly rejected him. Jabulani spent the following years without a herd, relying on the care and companionship of humans and a sheep companion.

Finding a New Family: The Formation of the Jabulani Herd

It wasn’t until years later that Jabulani’s life took another extraordinary turn. In 2002, a group of orphaned elephants from Zimbabwe found refuge in Kapama. Among them was Tokwe, a wise and nurturing matriarch who welcomed Jabulani into her fold, forever altering the course of his journey. Together, the elephants formed what would come to be known as the Jabulani herd.

Jabulani’s Legacy: A Symbol of Compassion

Over the years, the Jabulani herd grew, welcoming other orphaned elephants into their fold and providing them with the same love and support that Jabulani himself had received. And in 2019, the establishment of HERD elephant orphanage took this acceptance to a new level, offering a lifeline to orphans in need of care and rehabilitation.

Today, Jabulani is the first elephant to be introduced to new orphans who arrive at HERD. Time and again, Jabulani has shown his remarkable ability to accept and nurture these newcomers, providing them with a sense of comfort and belonging in their time of need. He greets them with his trademark peacefulness, guiding them through their integration into the herd. Perhaps it is because Jabulani’s own journey as an orphaned elephant mirrors the experiences of those he now welcomes into the herd.

Jabulani was also the first elephant to meet orphans Khanyisa and Phabeni. He offered both calves reassurance and guidance during the daunting start of the integration process. Through gentle touches, reassuring rumbles, or simply standing by their sides, Jabulani helped to ease their integrations into the herd.

A Journey Worth Celebrating

As Jabulani embarks on another year of his life, we invite you to join us in celebrating his remarkable journey and the legacy he has created. Happy 27th birthday, Jabulani. May his story continue to inspire generations to come, reminding us all that amidst life’s trials, there is always room for joy, acceptance, and the embrace of family – be it human or elephant.


  1. LOVE reading about your incredible priviledge to work and live and share with such awesome creatures made by God.

  2. jabulani as a baby bull is so cute, he is so good and patient with the young babies. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a wonderful giant

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