Gone too Soon – R.I.P Mopane

by jabulani

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All of our hearts at HERD and Jabulani have been shattered into a million pieces. It is with incredible heartbreak and disbelief that I share the news of Mopane’s sudden and unexpected passing a few days ago.

I still pray that somehow this is a nightmare that I will wake up from each morning, but I know that is impossible as I was there.

I was there when Mopane collapsed on me with his trunk on my shoulder as I held his head high to try to help him breathe easier; I had no idea what was happening. I looked down and saw blood and foam coming out of his trunk. My heart sank to my feet.

Tigere alerted me to in the early hours of the morning that Mopane was not well, I rushed down to the orphanage to find Mopane struggling to breathe. We notified our vet, Dr. Rogers, to get to HERD ASAP.

We all could see that something was seriously wrong; Mopane had been extremely healthy and happy; this did not make sense. By this time I had Tigere, Owen, Stavros, Tichoana, Schalk, Juan, Samson, Hermien, Reply, Khensani and Listen, all trying to help me keep him alive. We tried CPR for nearly an hour; my team and I would not give up. We stayed focused and refused to lose him, but we felt his little life slowly slipping away from us. Dr. Rogers arrived as soon as he could and confirmed our worst fears; little Mopane had left this world and our broken hearts behind.

We had been preparing to share the exciting news of his introduction to the Jabulani herd! He was in such a happy space. This simply should not be happening…

Wildlife Vet, Dr. Peter Rogers, advised from the initial autopsy that it seems likely that Mopane contracted a Virus called Encephalomyocarditis, which may have been passed via traces of rodents urine on some of the dry feed such as lucerne. As we had been experiencing drought, we have had to source extra food from various suppliers, where we suspect the contamination may have originated.

We are waiting for the final lab results from the autopsy specimens to have a better understanding. Dr. Roger’s words during the autopsy bring me a lot of comfort during this challenging time, he said: “You can see he was a happy chappy. He has no ulcers, and his adrenalin gland is small, which indicates that he was not stressed.” Sadly there is no cure for the virus as of yet, and it is incredibly acute. Nature can be so cruel, and we live by her often harsh ways.

Mopane arrived at his new home at HERD in August. We were all so excited as we transported Mopane in a trailer across the reserve from HESC to HERD. Of course, Lammie the sheep, his best friend, joined him as she plays an integral part in his life.

Sadly, we were unable to announce anything about his arrival at HERD (which has been SO difficult) as the permit for orphaned elephants were still under the name of HESC. Although our local authorities came to inspect our facilities and were very impressed, their head office also needed to visit; which further delayed the process.

In an ironic twist of (cruel) fate, at a time when we can finally start sharing Mopane’s daily adventures, he is no longer with us.

Over time, I would still like to share the significant moments of his precious time spent here at HERD with our followers. It was amazing to walk this path with Mopane and to see him growing up so happy in the new orphanage, and the success of our gradual integration process with the Jabulani Herd.

Mopane went on daily walks out in the bushveld, he played and became a bold and brave young elephant bull. He loved having the Jabulani Herd so close by; it gave him comfort. For a length of time, they did not have direct contact; but they had a full view of each other, and they continually rumbled and talked. He would wait for them to pass the orphanage, and they would stop and smell him as they did. Tokwe, the matriarch and Lundi would come every evening as close as possible, with their trunks high, smelling and rumbling. They communicated and became accustomed to the presence of each other.

We had started his direct introduction process with the Jabulani herd this month. It was incredible just how peaceful and calm their first interaction was, though I chose to have half of the herd present at the time. But that is something that we will share with you on another day.

Mopane was like my son. He arrived so small, weighing just over 70kg; and over the past two years, we have played together, cried together, sat, slept, walked, ran together, splashed and even wallowed in dams together.

His wonderful carers share my sentiment and have devoted endless hours, making sure Mopane got the best care. Thank you to my team for the love you gave him. Thank you to our followers, your love and comments even from a far distance keep us all going, and his legacy too.

I am going to miss you, my Moepa, we are all going to miss you. Thanks for putting a smile on our faces when you came running, and you see your happy feet and ele-trunk swaying. I know that one day, you will sit on my lap again.

We will never know what Mopane’s full story would have been, but I feel comfortable to say it from my heart, that it would have been a successful and happy one with the Jabulani herd.

We are trying to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts, but we will not stop here. I am so proud of the orphanage we have built and the team by my side. Although we have lost Mopane to something out of our control, he has helped us all believe that we have created the perfect space for a little elephant that needs a second chance at life. Nothing will prevent us from carrying on with HERD.

I want to thank every single person that has supported Mopane’s journey both financially and emotionally; please know how grateful we all are.

Adine Roode

Founder – HERD


  1. Dear Adine,
    As l read the story of your beloved Moepane,l sobbed unconcontrolably as l felt & related to every inch of the pain you & your devoted Carer’s & the Herd suffered with your shocking loss?? I’m so sorry & beyond sad for you all..So often this life can be unbelievably cruel & unfair..Much Love & admiration for your work & pure loving care..???

  2. Dear Adine,
    This is such a lovely story but with a very painfuly sad ending, my heart aches watching the video of such a beautiful rescue baby elephant. I am in tears writing, it was wonderful to see Mopane happy at last and though it was but a short time, all your work and love made up for it. God bless your work and dedication.

  3. Dear Adine,

    I feel so privileged to have come across the beautiful story of Mopane’s life. What a special, special little guy, and what an incredible love I know you all shared with him. Even though you lost him almost a year ago, I know it must seem like yesterday. I know how deeply you must still grieve, and I grieve with you. Though I live in a busy city half-way around the world, and though I’ll probably never be privileged – in this life, at least – to care for such magnificent animals, I love God’s creatures passionately, and devote much of my time to rescuing and adopting anything in need. I have a special fondness for exotic birds – beautiful creatures stolen from the wild, then bred in captivity for lives they were never meant to live. When I hear of an unwanted bird, I bring it home to live with me in the best environment I can possibly provide, for all the remaining years of its life. Surrounded by such wonder, how rich my life has been.

    I have lost so many precious animals over the years – feathered, furred, finned, and scaled – and each one carries a part of my heart to this day. We never get over the loss. The ache never goes away. Just three days ago I lost one of my most precious birds, a soul so sweet and gentle she seemed other-worldly. Adine, I know these little ones are as eternal as we are; and like you, I know we’ll be reunited one day. When that wonderful day comes that Mopane is finally sitting in your lap again, I hope you’ll remember me. I’ll have so many birds on my shoulders, cats in my lap, and dogs at my feet, I’ll probably be completely hidden from view…and that’s just fine with me. They are the ones who deserve to shine – these brave and beautiful creatures God really used to rescue me.

  4. What a real shame, looked so healthy, heartbreaking story.

    You all do a fantastic job, well done, I’m sure he was in the best hands possible.

  5. Left me in tears. So glad he was with you – could not have been in a better place. Lovely getting this information from you. Thank you to you and all your staff for the love you have to give.

  6. I watch your HERD videos and I do believe the animals and all people involved in keeping this precious community are so beautiful … stories like Mopane’s and how he grew your heart help me to do the same. Thank you for letting me share your world if only for a few moments, I wish I had some money to donate to HERD! Please keep posting your videos, you’re building a herd all over the world.

    1. hi Nicole. What a lovely message. I shared it with our team – as it made my heart smile. It is wonderful to have followers to share our ups and our downs too, as we are part of a big family. Support is not just about donations, it is about comments like this too that really motivates us more than you realise. Have a blessed New Year, Nicole! From your HERD Family

  7. Dear Adine and Herd Team. I came across Mopane’s story only today after watching Khanyisa’s and now Fenya for a month and it touched my heart so very much. I felt your sadness and pain at losing such a beautiful soul in Mopane. I initially found you on Facebook and wanted to buy a gift for my daughters birthday as she loves elephants and to me elephants represent family. I want to say that your care and dedication is inspiring and all of your team are amazing! Please tell them that they all have inspired me to want to help more elephants and I plan to one day to create this in my future. So Mopane thank you for your gift of joy and May you be blessed always and May all the Herd team be blessed with success, happiness and joy in all they do. Sending much love from UK and a dedicated Fan of your hard work taking care of elephants. Thank you All 🐘

  8. Did the tests ever confirm the diagnosis? Also is there anything that can be done to protect future elephants from sharing that fate? Tears of happiness and heart wrenching pain. Human herd please live with the happiness they bring you. Learn from the bad but please don’t stop doing what it is you do so well. I know you dont share all the bad that goes on but know that we the fans of your channel are waiting for you and supporting you any way we can. From sharing links and money to sending inspiring messages hoping to see the day your service is no longer needed because of poachers or rude people that think our lives are more important.

  9. What a beautiful and sad story at the same time. Your heart is immense and I am happy to be able to follow your work. May God continue to bless you.

  10. It is shocking to lose life of our precious creatures in such a way that devastates us to the core ….. unshakable sadness that shrouds our daily lives.
    Because of the unknowns of the cause of Mopane’s demise I would suggest that you obtain and keep on hand a supply of MMS … Genesis Church of Health and Healing (non religious) is a contact starting point. This product stops down toxins and virus outbreaks. It is a life saver for so many conditions. I use it in any suspected cases of illness both for my horses, dogs and self … food poisoning and diagnosed Lyme disease included. It works rapidly !
    My heart is very sore for your loss … Perhaps there is something so valuable in this that only Mopane could make possible for future protection of your herd .. “a crown jewel” of information you need as a weapon against unforeseen circumstances. Best always gor the future.

  11. I, too, just joined “the Herd”. Just before. Fenya crossed to the rainbow Bridge. Then I saw one evening the “gone too soon”. Just now I found the explanation of his death. So sad. It’s like losing a child for you. We all feel that way when our fur babies leave us. My deepest sympathy tho all of the herd team. You are all special . Thank you for the loving care you give the Ellies…

  12. What a beautifully told story of a very sweet ele soul. I cannot exactly know your loss but I have an understanding of something similar. Animals that we love and share our days with leave a deep and personal print that remains pure within us in a way that is hard to describe.
    Hard to describe because it is so exceptional.
    I Do understand your pain, but most importantly I understand your joy. Thank you for sharing this story.

  13. To Every Loving Soul at HERD
    I have only just connected with your videos in the past few months since retiring. And to all you beautiful human beings connected with finding and caring for these magnificent elephants, my deepest respect, gratitude and humble thank you. It is absolutely epic what you have and are achieving. So much so that your heroic efforts and unwavering love send ripples around the world demonstrating compassion, courage and resilience. Those ripples reach all the way to a small city in Ontario Canada. Thank you to everyone who tries endlessly to care and protect these rare precious animals. Love and gratitude to you all.

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