South Africa’s first Elephant Orphanage

Over the past four years, the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) has assisted with the funding and support of orphaned elephants at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), who under the guidance of the team at Jabulani, welcomed any orphaned or displaced elephant calves that have needed a place of rehabilitation and care.

With the growing numbers of orphans and displaced elephant calves in recent years, as a result of increasing numbers of poaching of elephant mothers as well as man vs. elephant land conflict, Adine Roode, MD and owner of the Jabulani Safari lodge, took the step to build a dedicated elephant orphanage to provide a unique adoptive family structure for baby elephants in need. First South Africa’s elephant orphanage was born and named HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development).

It is the mission of HERD to care for and rehabilitate these orphaned elephants, to give them a new family, and a second chance of life with another herd. The orphanage lies adjacent to the Jabulani Herd stables on the Kapama Private Game Reserve, which allows us to integrate each baby elephant into the herd according to their individual emotional needs.

The Orphanage consists of three individual nurseries with five communal areas that adjoin them; a kitchenette, a storeroom, a bathroom as well as indoor and outdoor playgrounds for the baby elephants.

The unusual family structure of the Jabulani Herd, the majority of which are orphans themselves, presents a unique solution for orphaned baby elephants in Southern Africa that vitally need to find a second herd to ensure their emotional wellbeing and survival. Unlike wild elephant herds, the neighbouring Jabulani Herd have graciously accepted orphan elephant calves into their family.