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Elephant Tales

Happy Birthday Pisa!

By 12th Nov 2010 2 Comments

Little Pisa – the baby of the herd – is turning one tomorrow (Saturday, November 13).

We plan to celebrate her special day with cake, singing and just generally making a real fuss of the birthday girl.

She’s now old enough to play the ‘cubes’ game that the rest of the ellies enjoy so much. ‘Cubes’ is essentially a game of treats, where we offer an elephant an open hand filled with cubes that are made from browse, minerals and vitamins.

From the outset Pisa has always been very wary of her ‘two-legged’ carers, so she’s still not convinced that eating directly from our hands is the best option. However, if we toss the cubes on the ground when she’s near her Mom (Tokwe) they’re quickly hoovered up.

She’s also not inclined to share (except with big sister Limpopo), and guards them fiercely from the other babies. She’s not afraid to run off the bigger calves when they try to slip in and sneak off with a piece either.

Pisa is slowly warming to us, and will reluctantly let us touch her when she’s engrossed in guzzling the cubes. But outside of that, she still considers us to be yucky creatures that need to be avoided at all costs, and will generally run off as soon as her cube pile is finished!

Pisa’s story is an extraordinary one. Her name means ‘hot’ in Shona, which is the language most of the groomsmen speak. The reason they named her Pisa is because she was born out in the bush in the heat of the day. The poor little girl then had to walk an hour or so back to the stables.

So the next time you find yourself complaining because the parking spot you found is too far from the shopping centre’s entrance, spare a thought for this brave little elephant who marched home on brand new feet in the midday sun.

Jimmy and the rhino

Jimmy – our resident tough guy – decided to hassle a rhino mother and her calf the other day.

He continually mock-charged the cow, while she in turn just fiercely stood her ground. Clearly the fact that the rhino had a long, straight horn that could easily have pierced his trunk and sinus cavity did not occur to him.

Eventually we had to enlist the help of the grooms in order to stop the fight before it got physical.

Apparently Jimmy felt the need to guard the waterhole from these supposed intruders.

Jimmy was never more than 100 yards from the rest of the herd during the entire 30 minute ‘stand-off’, but that didn’t stop Tokwe (the matriarch) from celebrating his heroic return by trumpeting loudly.

The grooms say it is because now he is the dominant bull. Well maybe in attitude!

Our elephants show us almost daily how much they care for one another, and this comes through in the strength of their bond for each and every member of the herd. Even brief separations are cause for eventful and impressive family reunions that invariably evoke much emotion from their human friends.

If only we could all have a support group like this!

Until next time,

Iain 😉


  • Larry Carroll says:

    This story of Pisa brings back fond memories of when I visited in 98 with then baby Jabulani. Also when i visited later just after all the elephants had arrived from Zimbabwe. Wonderful experiences that are mentally relived over and over again; especially with each bit of news from there. Thank you, Larry

  • Hey Larry. I’m so glad you have such wonderful memories of Camp Jabulani. I’ll pass your comments along to the staff up there! 😉

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