Meet the Jabulani elephants. The herd has matured over time to become a very close-knit family group. Each elephant has a distinctive character and shares a unique bond with the rest of the group.
Five elephant calves have been born to the Jabulani herd since 2006, as well as an additional two orphans, have been introduced, so the intra-herd dynamics have changed significantly over the years.
While wild elephants group themselves in matriarchal herds – with male bull elephants joining the herds from time to time and having little to do with the younger members – every member of the Jabulani herd, both male and female, young and old, is an integral part of their unique family.
The Original Herd
Approximate date of birth: 1988
Tokwe is an extraordinary elephant. She led the way for the original herd that were rescued from Zimbabwe, in 2002. Her presence was a big factor in the herd settling down so quickly in our care. They followed her lead, and trusted her decisions, and they still do so today.
Tokwe embraces all the qualities of an exceptional Matriarch. She is protective, caring, nurturing, kind, accepting, but still disciplined and well ordered. The Jabulani herd has followed her example since the beginning, and she has never let them down. She leads by example, and is a strong decision maker.
Her maternal instincts and nurturing qualities have been somewhat extraordinary over the years. This was evident during the introduction of Jabulani, Khumbura, Timisa and Shawu, to the herd. She has always reacted lovingly to and elephant needing a mother and a herd.
Tokwe was the first elephant to give birth, which was to Limpopo, in 2006. Her second baby, Pisa, was born in 2009. However, she also has two “adopted” elephants that she has cared for namely Kumbura and TImisa, two orphaned elephants that have been introduced to the herd.
Lundi is her closest friend, almost like a sister, which stems from their time of comforting each other during the strenuous times in Zimbabwe.
Tokwe shares her stable space with all these youngsters mentioned above, as well as Somopane.
Read more about Tokwe:
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Tokwe – Matriarch
Estimated date of birth: 1997
Jabulani was found in June 1997 as a four-month-old little elephant stuck in the mud of a silt dam, and abandoned by his herd. He was brought into the care of Lente Roode, the founder of Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC).
Against all the odds, Jabulani survived his initial ordeal and his health improved. The plan was to release him into the reserve to join the herd of wild elephants there. But alas, this was not to be as the wild herd was not interested in him and Jabulani kept returning to HESC.
However, five years later, in 2002, Jabulani found a family of his own when he was accepted by Tokwe (the matriarch) of the elephant herd that Lente Roode had rescued from Zimbabwe and brought to the reserve. This was the significant beginning of our Jabulani Journey.
Jabulani is a tall and slender elephant with tusks that are still quite short but evenly spaced, pointing in a very slight outward direction. Jabulani’s ears currently have no tears or perforations in them, and they are smaller than those of the other elephants.
Jabulani is amicable and very good natured. He is kind, loving, playful and adores receiving attention, whether from other elephants, his carers or guests. His mind is very active and enquiring, and he is always watching what is happening around him, wanting to be part of the action. He is a highly intelligent elephant.
Jabulani and the Herd:
Jabulani loves to jostle with the older elephant bulls, especially Sebakwe.
Estimated date of birth: 1985
Sebakwe is part of the original herd that was rescued by Lente Roode in 2002. He is thought to be an orphan, but the circumstances are not known. He was raised by humans.
Sebakwe is the dominant bull of the Jabulani herd. He is by far the biggest, tallest and widest (both from the front and from the rear). His tusks have developed beautifully and are long and strong, with his right tusk being slightly higher than his left trunk. A defining mark on his body is a scar on his left front leg, from a previous operation.
Sebakwe is the perfect example of a ``Gentle Giant.`` Although he is a magnificent elephant bull, he is also tender and loving, and very protective of the herd.
With his strong presence and well-tempered personality, Sebakwe was chosen to feature in the branding (and on the label) of the famous and popular South African cream liqueur Amarula. He is confident and happy around people, and so loves attention.
Sebakwe and the Herd:
Sebakwe spares as much time as possible with Setombe, the oldest of the females, as they get on extremely well. He also shares his part of the stables with Setombe and Klaserie.
His favourite time of the day is when the elephants take time out of their day's foraging, to swim in one of the dams. If there is a tree trunk in the vicinity, that will be his chosen swimming toy as he always has a stick of some sort in his mouth while playing in the water.
Read more about Sebakwe in our recent blog
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Estimated date of birth: 1987
Somopane originates from Zimbabwe, and was one of the original herd that was rescued, and brought to South Africa by Lente Roode, founder of HESC. Like with the rest of this herd, we do not have details on his early life, believe he too was an orphan.
One of the taller elephants of the herd, Somopane has a slender body, less wrinkled skin, and a rather rounded forehead. His tusks are leveled evenly, but considerably shorter than Sebakwe's.
Somopane is by far the most intelligent elephant of the herd. He is very confident, and comfortable in his skin, not having to prove himself to others. He is also an excellent mediator, often preventing the younger males from entering into fights. He enjoys time alone, especially during grazing hours.
With his strength in mediation, he played an importing and calming role in helping the entire herd settle down, when they arrived on the reserve. Through the years he has always been a wonderful elephant with our guests, and ever a respectful and warm loving elephant.
Somopane and the Herd:
His extreme intelligence and phenomenal sense of smell have made Somopane the perfect tracker of the herd. In terms of dominance of the herd, Somopane is in the fourth position a spot he shares with Jabulani
Somopane shares fourth spot with Jabulani, in the dominance of the herd.
He shares his stable area with the matriarch Tokwe, as well the younger elephants Limpopo, Kumbura, Pisa and Timisa.
Estimated date of birth: 1989
Fishan was rescued from Zimbabwe with the rest of the herd in 2002 due to the land reformation programme. Much like his peers, he started life as an orphan and survived with human intervention, which is all he has known through his life.
Fishan is a very tall elephant, but slender and not big. He was castrated at a young age, which may account for his smaller size.
He has shorter tusks, and a smaller head when compared to other elephant bulls of similar age.
There is a scar on his upper left side of his stomach, from an operation years ago. In September 2018, Fishan fractured his front left leg, resulting in a permanent limp when walking.
Fishan is a sensitive soul that stresses easily, although his seemingly carefree demeanor often fools one. He is very independent and is usually the elephant that will take an alternative route, to be different. But he never intends to offend anyone with his actions.
He is a very protective elephant who helps Tokwe, the matriarch to look after the calves. He is also the second in command behind Sebakwe. He is a very smart elephant who doesn't forget easily.
Fishan and the Herd:
Fishan loves spending time with Bubi, and the younger elephants, especially Zindoga. However, he prefers to avoid Jabulani, Setombe and Somopane.
He shares his quarters of the stable with Tokwe and the younger elephants.
Estimated date of birth: 1985
Setombe is one of the elephants that were rescued from Zimbabwe as a result of the land reformation program in 2002. Much like the rest of the original herd, we have very little information about her formative years, though we know they may have been tough, as she does not trust easily. In 2007, she gave birth to Klaserie.
She is the biggest and oldest female of the Jabulani herd, with beautiful tusks. Her head is more angular and she has a greater number of wrinkles than the other elephants.
Setombe could very well have been the matriarch of the herd, due to her age and body size, but she is a very nervous elephant, and she is neither a good decision maker nor a leader. She much prefers to spend time by herself eating, or with Sebakwe and her daughter Klaserie.
Setombe and the Herd:
The birth of Setombe’s daughter Klaserie in 2007 was a very significant event for us, as it indicated that Setombe had settled down in her new environment with us. If she had been under any stress, she would not have conceived. The birth of Klaserie also had a calming effect on Setombe.
She seems to find comfort alongside Sebakwe, possibly as she feels protected. We suspect that Setombe may have endured some bad experiences in her youth, as she battles to trust, and is often wary and skittish.
Estimated date of birth: 1989
Lundi is one of the original elephants that were rescued from Zimbabwe. During the turmoil of the situation there, she bonded with Tokwe, and the two have remained inseparable ever since.
Lundi is one of the easiest elephants in the herd to identify, due to the tears in her right ear that have been there since she came to us. She is of medium height and has fairly short tusks.
One of Lundi's most endearing traits is her loving support of matriarch Tokwe. She assists Tokwe in looking after the younger elephants and always keeps an eye on all of them when out foraging. Her approach is calm, but strict if any of them cross the line.
Lundi and the Herd:
Lundi has a son called Mambo. Although he has been a handful growing up, she is very attached to him.
If there is mud to wallow in, Lundi will be the first in it.
Lundi shares her stable with Mambo, her son, and Jabulani
Approximate date of birth: 1993
Bubi had a tough start to life in Zimbabwe. She lost her mother to poachers, so was orphaned at a young age. She was part of the original herd that was rescued by Lente Roode and brought to the reserve.
Bubi is uncharacteristically short for her age, compared to the other elephants in the herd. She has a very calm demeanor and takes everything in her stride. She has the longest eyelashes of the herd and shorter tusks that are uneven. The left tusk points slightly downwards, while the right tusk has developed slightly higher than the left, and faces more outwards.
Gentle and reliable, Bubie has impeccable manners and expects the same from the herd around her, especially the younger elephants. Mambo, the cheekiest of the younger elephants, always pushes the boundaries with Bubi.
Bubi and the Herd:
Bubi is the mother of Zindoga and is the natural ‘mother’ of the herd, nursing other calves besides her own, and in particular, Mambo. She prefers to spend her time in the company of other female elephants, especially Tokwe and Lundi.
She loves being in the water and having a good swim.
She shares a stable with her son Zindoga and Somopane.
Born to The Herd
Date of Birth: 23 February 2007
Klaserie was the second calf to be born to the Jabulani Herd, just six months after Limpopo was born. Her mother is Setombe.
Much like her mother, Setombe, Klaserie has a larger framed body, more pronounced wrinkles and slightly pointed forehead. Although she has smaller sized tusks to that of her mothers, they are still symmetrically aligned.
Klaserie is a very relaxed and easy going young female elephant, always taking things in her stride. The bond she has with her mother, Setombe, is very special, and no doubt where she gets her soft demeanor from
Like mother, like daughter, food plays a very important role in their days. Both of them can never get enough and never know when to stop.
Hanging with the crowd is not on Klaserie's list of importance, she is not interested in wrestling like the other elephants of her age tend to do. She would rather participate in other group activities, such as swimming with the herd.
Date of birth: 19 August 2006
Limpopo was the first elephant calf born to the Jabulani herd. Tokwe, the matriarch, is her mother, and Sebakwe is believed to be her father. The birth was an emotional time for everyone, as elephants are known to not reproduce, if they are under duress or in an unhappy environment. So, this was a significant event for everyone.
With her slightly less wrinkled skin, a slightly pointed forehead, and thin tusks, which are neat and even, you can see the resemblance to her mother, Tokwe.
Being an active elephant, much like her mother again, has resulted in a more athletic body shape.
Being the eldest of the younger elephants, Limpopo is very much the ``big sister`` of the herd, always protective and tending to the younger elephants. A trait she may well have learned from her caring mother.
Limpopo is an intelligent and beautiful young female, very alert to the other elephants feelings and emotions.
Whenever they encounter dangerous animals on the reserve, such as lions, she will be one of the first of the herd to react in a protective manner. She is her mother, Tokwe’s biggest fan, always backing her up and giving her daughterly support. It is beautiful to watch her love and devotion to her.
Limpopo is always helping Tokwe tend to the younger siblings of the herd, Kumbura and Timisa. Her best friend that she spends most her time with, is Klaserie, who is just 6 months younger than her.
Date of Birth: 29 August 2009
Mambo was the fourth baby elephant to be born to the herd. His mother is Lundi
He adapted so well into life here, and always listened and learned a lot from his mom, Lundi. Mambo loves people, and always wants to interact with guests.
This young bull is unusually big for his age, which makes him look a lot older than Pisa, who is a similar age.
His tusks are a normal size, and point outwards. His right eye is a little ragged looking, and he has a rounded forehead.
He has a tear in his right ear, which resembles the torn ear that his mother, Lundi, is well recognized for.
Mambo is by the far, the most mischievous elephant of the herd. He cannot stay out of trouble, and it frustrates some of the older elephants, such as Bubi. But his intentions are always playful and always done in a loving manner.
He loves attention, and being in the limelight, and is always the first to approach a guest to say hello. Being so comfortable around people, Mambo is one of the elephants that we introduce to guests during our interactions, on a more frequent basis.
Although Mambo has always been playful, he is learning discipline as he grows into his juvenile years. He is starting to make his own decisions and be a little more steadfast in his actions.
Mambo's favourite elephant to spend time with is Zindoga, who happen's to be Bubi's son, hence she keeps and eagle eye on the two, making sure Mambo does not lead Zindoga astray.
Date of Birth: 13 November 2009
Pisa is Limpopo's little sister, and the 2nd daughter to Tokwe, the Matriarch of the Jabulani Herd.
She made quite the entrance into this world. Whilst out in the bush, Tokwe went into labour, after showing no signs that she was close to her time, and after only one hour of labour, little Pisa was born, and walked back approximately 4km's on one of the hottest days of summer, side by side with her mom.
And so, we named her ``Pisa``, meaning Heat. We knew then that we had a strong willed and healthy young calf just join the herd.
Tokwe's daughters have both got her strong physique. Pisa, much like Limpopo, has a beautiful and athletic body, a slightly pointed forehead, and smaller tusks.
She also has less hair than normal on the tip of her tail.
From birth, Pisa showed her level of self-confidence, and that has continued to grow with her age. She often leads the herd when out foraging, and can be quite jealous of other younger elephants of the herd.
It was clear, when Timisa, an orphaned elephant arrived in 2017, that Pisa found it hard to accept the fact that she was no longer the baby of the herd. But Tokwe soon put her in her place, and guided her to accept the new elephant to the herd.
Pisa thinks she is an adult elephant, but yet like all the other younger elephants, she still needs the protection and support from the entire herd. She is often seen playing and having fun with the younger elephants, Kumbura and Timisa.
Date of Birth: 25 October 2007
Zindoga was an unexpected addition to the herd. Bubi, his mother, gave no sign of being pregnant, nor did she show any pre labour signals. Overnight she gave birth to a young elephant calf in our stables, having heard no strange noises or stirring overnight.
Still to this day, we are all stumbled by that morning's surprise.
He is a handsome looking young elephant, with thick short tusks and has a standard sized body, but still taller than his mother, Bubi, who is considerably shorter than most of the herd.
Zindoga has quite a competitive streak in him, always wresting with Mambo or even the older elephants, such as Jabulani. However, this is also enhancing his skills as a young male wanting to show a bit more dominance.
He is sure to become a wonderful and strong bull one day,
He has gained respect in the herd from his consistent yet respectful dominance of the younger elephants, as well as some of the adult females of the herd. This by no means he is violent, but rather just displaying his strength within the herd.
Zindoga spends most of his time with the Mambo, the other younger male in the herd.
Date of Birth: 2009 (we are not aware of the exact date)
Kumbura had a traumatic start to her life, as she was found wandering on her own, when she was rescued. No one knows what happened to her mother, or what Kumbura may have experienced, but she is certainly a strong survivor. The Jabulani herd, her new-found family, have given her the strength and support she has needed.
This delicate elephant is quite slender, with less wrinkles than many of the other elephants in the herd. Although she is a similar age to Pisa, she looks quite a bit older. Her tusks are average in size.
Kumbura has quite a nervous disposition, often doubting herself in situations, and always putting herself last. She has a naturally caring nature, and is always looking out for Timisa in particular, making sure she has a companion wherever she goes. Considering her tough start to her life, she is a very caring elephant towards others.
During the herd's afternoon swims, Kumbura makes sure that Timisa keeps away from the deeper parts of the dam, by nudging her towards the shallower area. She has a natural instinct to protect the younger herd, and this could be empathy nurtured through her own earlier experiences in her life.
Date of Birth: We are not certain, but we estimate mid 2015.
Timisa is an orphaned elephant, that we successfully introduced to the Jabulani herd. Her mother had unfortunately died from the drought that occurred in the region.
Tokwe, the matriarch of the herd, took her under her wing, and became her adoptive mother. With Tokwe's guidance, Timisa has settled in naturally with the herd.
Timisa was very weak when she first arrived, but in good time, her health improved dramatically, and she gained good weight, and showed healthy skin definition.
She has no signs of tusks as of yet, but they should start showing shortly.
Timisa started out as quite a fussy eater when she joined the herd, but this has improved. She loves a treat (or ten!) and is always on the lookout for the next nibble, she has a very healthy appetite.
The introduction of Timisa to the herd was a very heartwarming sight. The herd trumpeted and surrounded her in a protective circle immediately. Many tears were shed watching this emotional moment. Fishan was the first to show his acceptance of Timisa to the herd, followed by Tokwe, who had to leave Pisa, her last born daughter, to tend to Timisa, and thereafter the whole herd participated, and Pisa took it very well.
Timisa has bonded very well with Pisa and Kumbura.
FOSTER AN ELEPHANT
It’s an expensive exercise taking care of an elephant. Food, veterinary care, housing and human resources all amount to approximately R30,000.00 per elephant per month. This cost is fixed, regardless of visitor numbers.
Following the extraordinary interactions they have enjoyed, many of our guests express an interest in fostering one of the Jabulani elephants. We have therefore made available various fostering options available
With each fostering you will receive the following:
- A certificate acknowledging your sponsorship.
- Quarterly updates with news and images.
- The knowledge that you are contributing to a very special animal’s survival.