Our Solar Energy Journey

by jabulanisafari

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HERD elephant orphanage and homestead are going solar! But so is Jabulani. As a family, we decided the time was right to embark on this new journey of utilising a more sustainable energy source. It has long been a dream of ours, because of its benefits for the environment locally and globally. But it has also become more pressing as we battle forced power outages in South Africa almost daily, with our national electricity supplier, Eskom unable to provide for the country’s electricity demands. Loadshedding isn’t a term many people overseas know, but it has been a reality for us since 2007. It’s unbelievable to think that we have been struggling for so long with intermittent power supplies that often lead to damaging repercussions for our signal and communication providers, and our equipment on the reserve.

HERD Trust and Jabulani have their own bills to pay to cover the cost of going solar, with HERD fundraising to support the NPO’s part, and Jabulani carrying the cost through tourism revenue. It is a million-Rand investment but the incredible side to this is that in a few years we will actually make the money back and hugely reduce our expenditure on electricity. At the same time, we will be able to decrease our direct carbon footprint, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (including diesel for the generators). When we no longer need to rely on generators, we will further reduce related carbon emissions and noise pollution.

Solar energy has many more benefits too. We will be helping to save water, a precious natural resource especially on a continent that is one of the driest on the planet. Traditional electricity production makes use of thousands of litres of water each year, for cooling generators, processing and refining fuel and transporting fuel through pipes. Solar panels use no water at all. By going solar, we will reduce our contribution to air pollution. Fossil fuel electricity creates harmful carbon dioxide and methane gases that damage the atmosphere and contribute to several diseases, as people breathe in poor quality air on a daily basis. Solar is cleaner. It is renewable, with an abundant source right above us. The impact won’t only be felt here in Hoedspruit, but globally, as each move toward more sustainable operations and choices helps to mitigate our affect on global warming.

Lodge Manager, Ruan Roos shares insight into Jabulani’s move to solar energy.

What led to Jabulani deciding to go solar and off the grid?

With South Africa’s load shedding on the rise, it isn’t sustainable for us to stay completely on the grid.  Running a generator for that number of hours is unsustainable and we had to investigate alternatives to ensure that we play our part in keeping our lodge green.

What are the challenges of choosing to go solar and implementing this project? 

There are a lot of different factors that need to be taken into account. We met with different local businesses to see what the best options were for going solar. We had to consider the size needed, our impact on the environment and how sustainable the project would be.

How will this change things for the lodge, staff and guests? 

The lodge will not be affected as much. As guests were interrupted by the power outages for maybe 30 seconds to one minute at a time, but the constant power outages do take a toll on our equipment, like our fridge freezers, and air-conditioning. Our staff will also benefit as some nights it has been impossible to sleep without a fan due to the heat.

Where and how is the solar plant set up? 

We have decided to put all the panels in our workshop. In this way, we do not need to clear any space to put the panels. This helps us to protect the trees and plant life. A 6×8 metre area has been allocated for the building in which the batteries, inverters, etc will be kept.

Is this becoming increasingly popular in hospitality in South Africa?

The use of solar plants has increased drastically over the last decades. Dozens of lodges already use solar plants, and we are honored to join them.

What makes Hoedspruit, Kapama, an ideal location for solar energy to be used? 

Living in the Lowveld, we are in one of the most ideal locations in South Africa for solar energy.  Hoedspruit averages about 20 days a year with no sun so it is the perfect area to take advantage of solar power.

Help HERD Go Solar & Stand a Chance to Win a Safari at Jabulani

If you would like to help HERD Trust in their campaign to raise funds for their portion of the solar plant in our reserve, visit: herd.org.za/solar-campaign

To enter the competition, simply donate a ray of sunshine to the campaign – every $50/ R1000 gives you one entry – and you will stand a chance to win a safari experience at Jabulani. You can meet the elephants and experience the African sun for yourself. The more you donate, the more chance you have to win the prize.

Terms and conditions apply. Prize includes 2 nights for 2 people sharing. No flights included.


  1. Please any big bussiness or company please v help herd to become solar please donate hugely they do such good work for the elephants

  2. Congratulations on your transition to green energy, more reliable, cleaner and self-sustaining systems. What is an NPO? it’s referenced in your promotion materials above. It says Herd Trust or NPO will take care of its allocation. What is an NPO? Thank you.

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