The journey of Jabulani

Jabulani is recognised as one of South Africa’s most respected five-star safari lodges. But the essence of Jabulani reaches far deeper than luxury and leisure – it reflects an exceptional twenty-year journey that began with a brave little elephant named Jabulani.


Jabulani through the years

Our story started in 1997, with Jabulani, an elephant calf of just four months, who was found injured, abandoned and stuck in the mud of a silt dam. He was successfully rehabilitated and once weaned, he was introduced to the wild elephants of the reserve, who repeatedly rejected him. Fate had a different plan for Jabulani. 

In 2002, we were contacted to urgently step in and rescue a herd of orphaned elephants in Zimbabwe who were to be culled during the country’s land reformation process. Within a few days, we managed to rescue the elephants and transport them over the border to their new home in our reserve in South Africa. Their human carers accompanied them on the journey and continue to work alongside them with us at Jabulani and HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development) today. Tokwe, the Matriarch of the herd, accepted Jabulani lovingly and gracefully. Jabulani had finally found a new family and the blended Jabulani herd was formed. Their unique family structure would create a favourable environment for orphaned elephants in need of a herd. The herd have since warmly welcomed another three orphaned elephants: including Kumbura, Timisa and Khanyisa. With the substantial financial burden of having to care for the elephants and provide housing and income for their carers, it was decided to build a luxury lodge. 

In 2005, our lodge was born. Since the conception, we have grown deeper in our conservation efforts but also our hospitality, cuisine and guest experiences, with our Relais & Châteaux accreditation, and our exceptional and passionate team sharing a unique and soulful safari experience with guests. With the growing numbers of orphans and displaced elephant calves in recent years, as a result of increased poaching and human-elephant conflict, Adine Roode, the owner and MD of Jabulani, took the step to build an elephant orphanage to provide a unique adoptive family structure for these calves in need.

In 2019, South Africa’s first dedicated elephant orphanage, named HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development), built alongside the Jabulani herd homestead. HERD provides a safe place to care for and rehabilitate orphaned elephants from the often traumatic or near-fatal challenges that have caused them to be abandoned until they can be integrated into the welcoming Jabulani herd. Guests that stay at Jabulani contribute to the operational costs of HERD. They also have the opportunity to be a part of the elephants’ journey, by learning more about them, and their individual personalities and stories, and witnessing them in the wilderness of  our reserve.


Meet the Team

​​“Through the years I have come to learn that no matter how luxurious or exclusive our lodge may be, it is our people that make our guest’s experience truly unforgettable.”

~ Adine Roode, Managing Director

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